Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ventured beyond the relative safety of Kyiv on Wednesday to visit the recently liberated city of Izyum, where he promised to drive Russian forces from all of Ukraine.
“Our blue-yellow flag is already flying in de-occupied Izyum. And it will be so in every Ukrainian city and village,” he said on social media during the visit.
“We are moving in only one direction — forward and towards victory.”
A supply and logistic hub for Russian operations in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, the retaking of Izyum represents a strategic win for Ukraine as well as a morale boost.
A visibly emotional Zelensky awarded medals to Ukrainian soldiers who participated in the liberation of Balakliya.
Just northwest of Izyum, the Ukrainian flag was hoisted once again in Balakliya last week.
Regional police there Tuesday said they’d exhumed the bodies of two men, civilians, who’d been shot by Russian troops last week before Ukrainian forces arrived.
Throughout the newly liberated parts of the Kharkiv province, six bodies have already been found with signs of torture, Ukrainian prosecutors said.
The office of Oleksandr Filchakov, Kharkiv’s regional prosecutor, said bodies were found in Hrakove and Zaliznyche.
“The view is very shocking, but it is not shocking for me,” Zelensky said while surveying the damage in Izyum, “because we began to see the same pictures from Bucha, from the first de-occupied territories … the same destroyed buildings killed people.”
Oleksiy Arestovych, a Zelensky adviser, said the fight was raging in Lyman, a city in the northern portion of the Donetsk province halfway between Izyum and Severodonetsk — the ruined city where Ukrainian forces tried in vain to hold off a Russian advance this summer.
“There is now an assault on Lyman,” Arestovych said in a video posted to YouTube. “And that is what they fear most — that we take Lyman and then advance on Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk.”
Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-backed self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic, said Moscow-aligned troops had pushed back a Ukrainian advance near Lyman Wednesday, the second time this week fighting has been reported in the city.
With Post wires