- Russia’s annexation of four regions condemned globally
- Move is ‘dangerous escalation’ that threatens peace – UN chief
- Ukraine’s Zelensky says war must stop to end Putin’s war
- Zelensky calls emergency meeting on security and defense
ZAPORZHIZH, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian troops in Ukraine were on the brink of one of the worst defeats of the war on Friday, even as President Vladimir Putin will declare annexation he seized in an invasion. territory.
The pro-Russian leader of Ukraine’s occupied Donetsk province has admitted that his forces have completely lost control of the villages of Dobryshev and Yampil, leaving Moscow’s main garrison in northern Donetsk semi-encircled in the city of Leman.
Ukrainian troops “do whatever it takes to sabotage our historical events,” Denis Pushlin said, referring to the annexation ceremony he will attend with Putin in the Kremlin.
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“This is very unpleasant news, but we have to look at the situation soberly and draw conclusions from our mistakes.”
Elsewhere, missiles destroyed convoys of civilian vehicles preparing to enter Russian-occupied territory from Ukrainian-held territory, killing at least 23 civilians. Ukrainian officials say it is Russia’s deliberate attempt to cut off the front’s last left wing. Moscow blamed Kyiv.
Putin was due to officiate at the Kremlin ceremony, followed by a pop concert on Red Square to celebrate Europe’s biggest territorial annexation since Hitler.
But the event looks likely to be overshadowed by Lehmann’s downfall, which would mark the collapse of Russian forces in northern Donetsk and open the way for Kyiv to penetrate deeper into Russian-held territory, as Putin announced his annexation of it.
Kyiv was silent on the situation in Lehman, but pro-Russian military blogs reported that Ukrainian troops had nearly surrounded thousands of Russian troops, cutting off their escape routes. Pushlin said one road to Lehman was still open, but acknowledged it was now under Ukrainian fire.
Friday’s missile attack in Zaporozhye was eerie, even by the standards of a conflict in which Russia razed an entire city. On the morning of Russia’s planned annexation celebrations, there were several other attacks on Friday that hit civilian targets along the territory of Ukraine’s controlled area.
The convoy was gathering in a parking lot trying to enter Russian-held territory near Zaporozhye, the Ukrainian-controlled capital that Moscow claims is annexing. A checkpoint in the area has opened in recent days, allowing civilians to cross the front lines.
A crater was dug in the ground near the two lines of vehicles. The impact threw chunks of dirt into the air, and shrapnel splattered a car full of items, blankets and suitcases. Reuters saw about a dozen bodies.
Plastic sheets were covered over the bodies of a woman and a young man in a green car. Next to the young man in the back seat lies a dead cat. The two bodies lay in a white minivan in front of another vehicle, with its windows blown off and shrapnel strewn on the sides. There is an old woman’s body nearby, next to her shopping bag.
“So far, 23 dead and 28 wounded. All civilians,” Zaporozhye regional governor Oleksandr Starukh wrote on Telegram. “Occupiers attack unarmed Ukrainians. This is another terrorist attack by a terrorist state.”
A woman who identified herself as Natalia said she and her husband had visited their children in Zaporozhye and were preparing to travel back to Russian-held territory.
“We went back to my 90-year-old mother. We survived. It was a miracle,” she said, as she and her husband stood by their car.
Colonel Sergei Udyumov, head of the explosive ordnance disposal unit of the Zaporozhye police station, said the market was hit by three S300 missiles.
Pro-Russian officials said without evidence Ukraine was responsible for the attack. Despite numerous confirmed incidents documented by the United Nations and other agencies, Russia has consistently denied that its forces targeted civilians.
Russia’s annexation of the Russian-occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions comes after the West condemned a sham referendum at gunpoint, condemned in the West and beyond.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it a “dangerous escalation” that violated the UN charter.
“It can still be stopped. But to stop it, we have to stop the man in Russia who wants war over life. Your lives, Russian citizens,” Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said in remarks late Thursday. said in.
Putin chose to escalate the war as his troops were forced to flee Ukraine’s Kharkiv province this month. Last week, he backed the annexation of Russian-held territory, ordered the draft of hundreds of thousands of reservists and threatened to use nuclear weapons if Russia was attacked.
On Friday, the Kremlin reiterated that any attack on territory it now annexes would be an attack on Russia itself. Ukraine said it would take back all of its territory.
Zelensky promised a strong response to annexation and called an emergency meeting of his defense and security chiefs on Friday, an official said.
On the eve of the annexation ceremony, Putin said “all the mistakes” he made while conscripting the army should be corrected, in his first public admission since last week of problems in the mass roundup of hundreds of thousands of Russian men.
Tens of thousands of men have fled Russia to avoid conscription. Western nations say Moscow is pushing unprepared troops to the front lines with little or no training and ill-equipped. The MoD said the army was told to buy its own first aid kit.
Putin’s call-up order did not detail who had to be drafted into the army. Russian officials have said older men or those with no military experience should be exempt, but a call-up has been issued to men in their 50s and students. Members of ethnic minorities said they were particularly attacked, leading to unrest in southern Russia and Siberia.
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Reporting from the Reuters office; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Robert Birsel and Angus MacSwan
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