Ukraine’s president vows to keep fighting as battles rage on the Eastern Front

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The NATO chief warned that Western countries must be ready to offer long-term support to Kyiv.

Kyiv:

The head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has warned that the war in Ukraine could last “for years” as President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed on Sunday that his forces would not abandon the south of the country to Russia after his first visit to the front.

Ukraine said it also repelled fresh attacks by Russian forces on the eastern front, where there have been weeks of fierce battles as Moscow tried to seize the industrial region of Donbass.

As Ukraine remained defiant, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that Western countries must be ready to offer long-term support to Kyiv during a bitter war.

“We have to be prepared for this to last for years,” Stoltenberg told German daily Bild.

“We must not falter in our support for Ukraine, even though the costs are high, not only in terms of military support, but also due to rising energy and food prices.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a similar warning, calling for sustained support for Kyiv or risk “the greatest victory of aggression” since World War II.

“Time is now the vital factor,” Johnson wrote in a Sunday Times article after his second visit to Kyiv, calling on the West to ensure Ukraine has “the strategic stamina to survive and ultimately carry”.

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“Return Everything”

Russian forces have directed their firepower towards eastern and southern Ukraine in recent weeks since their failed attempt to take the capital Kyiv after a February 24 blitz invasion.

Zelensky made a rare trip out of Kyiv on Saturday to the Black Sea town of Mykolaiv and visited troops near and in the neighboring Odessa region for the first time since the Russian invasion.

“We will not give the south to anyone, we will return everything that belongs to us and the sea will be Ukrainian and safe,” he said in a video posted on Telegram as he returned to Kyiv.

He said he spoke with soldiers and police during his visit.

“Their mood is confident, and looking into their eyes, it’s obvious they’re not all doubting our victory,” he said.

But Zelensky admitted the losses were “significant”, adding: “Many houses have been destroyed, civilian logistics have been disrupted, there are many social problems”.

Mykolaiv is a key target for Russia as it lies on the way to the strategic port of Odessa on the Black Sea.

Blockaded by Russia, the people of Odessa turned their attention to rallying the home front effort.

“Every day, including weekends, I come to make camouflage nets for the army,” Natalia Pinchenkova, 49, said behind a large Union flag, in thanks to Britain for its support for Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict.

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Meanwhile, soldiers in Mykolaiv were trying to maintain their pre-war routines, with one saying he would not give up his vegan diet on the front lines.

Oleksandr Zhuhan said he received a package from a network of volunteers to maintain his plant-based diet.

“There was pâté and vegan sausages, hummus, soy milk… and all that for free,” rejoices the 37-year-old theater teacher.

‘Hero’

Back in Kyiv, as the shockwaves of war continued to reverberate around the world, thousands of people gathered to pay their respects to a young man, Roman Ratushny, a leading figure in the pro-European Maidan movement in Ukraine, who was killed fighting the Russians in the east of the country. earlier this month at just 24 years old.

In front of the coffin draped in a yellow and blue Ukrainian flag at the foot of a monument that overlooks the sprawling Independence Square in the capital, people of all ages saluted his memory.

“I think it’s important to be here because he’s a hero of Ukraine and we have to remember him,” 17-year-old high school student Dmytro Ostrovsky told UKTN.

This loss puts a human face on the shared grief of Ukrainians, as the bloodshed continues.

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The worst of the fighting continues to unfold in the eastern industrial region of Donbass, with fighting raging in villages outside the city of Severodonetsk, which Russia has been trying to seize for weeks.

“There is an expression: prepare for the worst and the best will come by itself,” the governor of the eastern Lugansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, told UKTN in an interview from the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, in the capital. across the river from Severodonetsk.

“Of course we have to be prepared,” he said, dressed in a bulletproof vest and carrying pistol cartridges and a tourniquet.

Ukraine’s armed forces said on Sunday they had repelled Russian attacks on villages near Severodonetsk.

“Our units repelled the assault in the Toshkivka area,” the Ukrainian military said on Facebook. “The enemy has retreated and is regrouping.”

He said Russian forces were “storming” the village of Orikhove, but had “successfully repelled” an assault near the village.

In Lysychansk, Governor Gaiday said seeing his hometown of Severodonetsk being bombed and people he knew dying was “painful”.

“I’m a human being but I bury that deep inside of me,” he said, adding that his task was “to help people as much as possible.”

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