Ukraine will win the war started by Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday as Moscow entered its 100th day of attacking its neighbors as Russian troops opened fire in the Donbass region.
Thousands have been killed, millions have fled and cities have been reduced to rubble since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to be sent to Ukraine on February 24.
Russia’s progress has been slowed by a fierce Ukrainian resistance that has driven them out of the vicinity of the capital and forced Moscow to shift its focus to the eastern occupation.
Russia has since taken over one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory – tripling its territory since 2014 when it occupied Crimea and parts of the Donbass.
Moscow has assessed that “some results have been achieved,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, referring to the “liberation” of some areas from what he called “Ukraine’s Nazi armed forces.”
But Zelensky said Russia would not appear in a video with the same key political leaders as shown in a video posted on February 24 while pledging to protect their country.
“Our team is very large. Ukraine’s armed forces are here. Most importantly – the people, the people of our state are here. We have been defending Ukraine for 100 days already,” he said.
“Victory will be ours,” he announced in a video with the president’s office building as a backdrop.
Putin’s troops are now concentrating their forces in the former Donbass, where some of the most feared fighting centers in the industrial city of Severodonetsk.
Fighting continues in the city center of Severodonetsk, the president’s office said, adding that the attackers were “firing on civilian infrastructure and the Ukrainian military.”
Severodonetsk is “the hardest area right now,” Zelensky said late Thursday night.
“For 100 days, they have been equalizing everything,” Lugansk regional governor Sergei Gade said in a telegram.
Accusing the Russians of destroying hospitals, schools and roads, Gade said, however, “We are only getting stronger.
“Hatred of the enemy and belief in our victory makes us intact.”
Ukrainian troops are still occupying an industrial area, Gade said, a situation reminiscent of Mariupol, where the last holdout of the southeastern port city was a steelworks until Ukrainian troops finally surrendered in late May.
The situation in Lisichansk – the twin city of Severodonetsk, which sits on the banks of a river – also looked increasingly dire.
City Mayor Oleksandr JICA said about 60 percent of the infrastructure and housing had been destroyed, while internet, mobile networks and gas services had been cut off.
“The shells are getting stronger every day,” he said.
In the town of Sloviansk, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Severodonetsk, the mayor called on residents to evacuate because of the intensity of the bombing and the disconnection of water and electricity.
Goulanara, an 18-year-old student, described the heavy bombing in a minibus leaving the town of Ivgaripova.
“The situation is getting worse, the explosions are getting stronger and stronger and the bombs are falling more frequently,” he told AFP.
And in Mykolaiv, south, at least one person was killed and several others were injured in Russian shelling, Ukrainian military officials said late Thursday.
“There is no winner in this war and there never will be,” said Amid Awad, Ukraine’s assistant secretary general and UN crisis coordinator.
“Rather, we have seen for 100 days what is lost: life, home, jobs and possibilities.”
Led by the United States, Western nations have pumped out weapons and military supplies to help Ukraine survive the onslaught.
Earlier this week, the United States announced that it was sending more advanced rocket launch systems to Ukraine as part of a $ 700 million package. The Kremlin has accused Washington of “adding fuel to the fire.”
Sal-Putin has spoken
Western allies have also sought to block Russia’s financial lifeline in a bid to persuade Putin to change course.
Already making a long list of sanctions, the United States on Thursday blacklisted Putin’s money manager and a Monaco company that supplies luxury yachts to Moscow’s elite.
Across the Atlantic, EU countries have agreed to new sanctions that will cut 90 percent of Russia’s oil imports to the bloc by the end of the year.
Russia has warned that European consumers will pay the price for the first partial oil embargo.
Major crude producers have agreed to increase output by about 50 percent per month in an effort to calm an overheated market and reduce inflationary pressures.
But the move has disappointed investors and pushed prices up since the announcement.
With a global food crisis looming, the head of the African Union, Senegalese President Macky Sall, is arriving in Russia on Friday for talks with Putin.
Sal will want to free Putin from stagnant food grains and fertilizers
Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain producers, and the war has already translated into high costs for essentials ranging from cereals to sunflower oil to corn, the poorest of the worst.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)