Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was this week involved in a traffic accident in Kyiv, but was not seriously hurt, his spokesperson said in a Facebook post early on Thursday. Serhii Nykyforov, who did not say when the accident occurred, said Zelensky’s car had collided with a private vehicle. “The president was examined by a doctor, no serious injuries were found,” he said, adding the incident would be investigated. Medics accompanying Zelensky gave the driver of the private car emergency aid and put him in an ambulance, he said.
In his nightly televised address, the video of which was posted shortly after the car crash, Zelensky said he had just returned from the area around Kharkiv, adding that “almost the entire region is de-occupied” after a counteroffensive.
“It was an unprecedented movement of our soldiers – the Ukrainians once again managed to do what many thought was impossible,” he said.
After visiting the liberated city of Izium, Zelensky said Ukraine’s troops had recaptured around 8,000 sq km (3,100 square miles) of territory.
Kherson Region under Attack
De-occupied settlements in the region of Kherson in southern Ukraine are coming under Russian fire, a regional official warned on Thursday, telling residents to evacuate.
“The situation in the de-occupied settlements of the Kherson region is extremely difficult,” Yaroslav Yanushevych, head of the Kherson Regional Military Administration, said on Telegram, noting that one town had seen all of its houses damaged or destroyed, while another had seen 80% of its properties destroyed.
Ukraine recently launched a counteroffensive in southern Ukraine to reclaim Russian-occupied territories. Unlike its counterattack in northeastern Ukraine, which has seen most of the region of Kharkiv de-occupied, a significant part of Kherson, the region above Russian-annexed Crimea, remains occupied by Russian forces, although Ukraine has launched a series of counterattacks there and has made some gains.
Kremlin sources “are now working to clear Putin of any responsibly of the defeat, instead blaming the loss of almost all of the occupied Kharkiv oblast on under-informed military advisers,” said the Institute of the Study of War.
In a statement reported by CNBC, the institute said that “Kremlin officials and state media propagandists are extensively discussing the reasons for the Russian defeat in Kharkiv oblast, a marked change from their previous pattern of reporting on exaggerated or fabricated Russian successes with limited detail.”
The prospects for peace in Ukraine are currently “minimal,” the UN Secretary General said on Wednesday after a phone conversation with Vladimir Putin.
“I have the feeling we are still far away from peace. I would be lying if I said it could happen soon,” Guterres noted, adding: “Even a ceasefire is not in sight,” he said.
Putin still believes he was right to launch an invasion in Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday after a 90-minute telephone call with the Russian president. “Sadly, I cannot tell you that the impression has grown that it was a mistake to begin this war,” Scholz said in a press briefing.
Russian Strikes Continue on Ukrainian Infrastructure
Eight Russian missiles that struck Kryvyi Rih on Wednesday were directed at hydraulic structures, causing enough damage that the water level of the Inhulets river rose and posed a serious threat to the city. This aligns with Ukraine’s concerns that Russia will continue to target Ukraine’s infrastructure in retribution for its success in regaining occupied territory. Kryvyi Rih is Zelensky’s home town.
Russian troops also returned to Kreminna, a city in the Russian-occupied Luhansk region that was “completely empty” yesterday, said Serhiy Hadai, the region’s governor, and tore down the Ukrainian flags that local partisans had raised in celebration. Yesterday, a similar situation happened in Svatove – Russian troops left but returned after some time, Hadai said. Russian troops also left Starobilsk, another city in the Luhansk region.