Kyiv, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy are each courting major allies on Thursday, seeking to bolster their efforts in a war whose fortunes have swung to Ukraine in recent days.
In the former Samarkand of Uzbekistan, Putin hoped to break his international isolation and further solidify his ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a geopolitical alliance increasingly seen as a powerful counterweight to Western powers.
Putin and Xi were to meet one-on-one and discuss Ukraine, according to the Russian president’s foreign affairs adviser.
In Kyiv, Zelenskyy shrugged off a traffic accident the previous night that left him without major injuries, officials said. On the agenda, a meeting with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who has once again shown her attachment to the cause of Ukraine.
Von der Leyen said she would address “how to continue to bring our economies and our people together as Ukraine moves towards membership” of the European Union, which is probably still years away, even under the best of circumstances. .
As Russian forces in some areas are increasingly pushed back towards the border, Russia continues to strike behind the front line. He fired missiles at the reservoir dam near Zelenskyy’s birthplace, Kryvyi Rih, forcing local authorities into emergency work to ensure there was no threat to the population.
Kryvyi Rih chief Oleksandr Vilkul said on Thursday authorities had blown up two dams to help the flow of the river and the extra levels had started to drop. Authorities are continuing their search and rescue efforts. He didn’t specify right away.
The attack so close to his roots angered Zelenskyy, who said the strikes had no military value.
“In fact, hitting hundreds of thousands of ordinary civilians is another reason Russia will lose,” he said in his nightly speech Wednesday night.
Zelenskyy himself remained in a cheerful mood, saying that almost 400 settlements had been recaptured in less than a week of fighting.
“It was an unprecedented move by our warriors – the Ukrainians once again managed to do what many considered impossible,” he said.
Zelenskyy is expected to ask for more Western military hardware, which has been essential in leading the counteroffensive, and to demand even tougher sanctions against Moscow as the war nears seven months.
Despite Ukraine’s renewed vigor on the battlefield and the first rumblings of criticism at home, Putin remains steadfast in his determination to bring Ukraine into complete submission, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.
After a phone call with Putin earlier in the week, Scholz said “unfortunately I can’t tell you that the realization has grown there now that it was a mistake to start this war.”
“There is no indication that any new attitudes are emerging there now,” he added.
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