today is Jan 27, 2023

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has travelled to the Kharkiv region and said “stabilisation measures” were still ongoing in recently liberated areas.

Mr Zelenskiy on Wednesday visited the newly recaptured town of Izium, a key supply hub in the northeastern region, a Ukrainian military brigade said, following the departure of Russian troops a few days ago.

“The president of Ukraine thanked the soldiers for liberating Ukrainian lands, and solemnly raised the Ukrainian flag over the city council,” the 25th Separate Airborne Sicheslav Brigade said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The post included photographs of the president, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar and senior military personnel at the ceremony.

In an address on Tuesday evening, the president said that about 8,000sq km (3,100 square miles) had been liberated so far, apparently all in the northeastern region of Kharkiv.

“Stabilisation measures” had been completed in about half of that territory, Mr Zelenskiy said, “and across a liberated area of about the same size, stabilisation measures are still ongoing”.

The president also said that progress had been made towards shoring up international support for Ukraine’s future security.

“We are working to ensure that the guarantors of our state’s security become the strongest entities in the free world,” he said.

“We have already built together with our partners a powerful anti-war coalition that includes dozens of different countries. And now we are working to turn the most powerful states that are already helping us into a coalition of peace that will last forever.”

US president Joe Biden said it was hard to tell if Ukraine had reached a turning point in the six-month war. Asked about the situation on Tuesday, he said: “It’s clear the Ukrainians have made significant progress,” he said. “But I think it’s going to be a long haul.”

The White House said the United States is likely to announce a new military aid package for Ukraine in “coming days”.

Russian forces have left defensive positions, particularly in and around Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, a US spokesperson said.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych held out the prospects of building on the gains by moving on the eastern province of Luhansk, which together with Donetsk is known as the Donbas. “There is now an assault on Lyman and there could be an advance on Siversk,” Mr Arestovych said in a video posted on YouTube.

Major setbacks for Moscow’s forces in Ukraine will further test the “limitless partnership” between Russia and China when Vladimir Putin meets Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan on Thursday, analysts say.

The meeting scheduled for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Samarkand, is likely to involve jostling for influence in central Asia, where the two global powers have long waged a “quiet rivalry”. — Guardian