Ukraine watchful of borders as Putin heads to Belarus

KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said protection Ukrainehis border is an “ongoing priority” and his country is ready for any eventuality with Russia and its allies Belaruswhich Kiev warned of the possibility of being drawn into the 10-month conflict.
Zelenskiy, in his nightly video address to the Ukrainians, also made a new call to Western nations to provide Kiev with better air defenses as “one of the most powerful steps” to prevent stop the Russian invasion. Early Monday, air strikes again sounded in Kiev and eastern Ukraine, with videos of explosions and air defenses being shared on social media.
“Securing our borders, both with Russia and Belarus – is our top priority,” Zelenskyy said after Sunday’s meeting with Ukraine’s top military commander. “We are preparing for all possible defensive scenarios.”
Zelenskyy spoke on the eve of the Russian President’s visit to Belarus Putin amid discussion of a possible new Russian attack and suggestions that it may have originated in Belarus.
Officials in Kiev have warned for months that Belarus could join Russian forces and serve as a launching pad for a new offensive to form a second front in the war.
Regardless of what Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko may be persuaded to do for Russia, “it won’t help them, like all the other sick ideas in the war against Ukraine and the Ukrainians,” Zelenskyy said. speak.
Belarus is one of Russia’s closest allies and Lukashenko authorized the use of his country’s territory for the invasion of Ukraine on February 24. However, he has repeatedly said that he has no options. intends to send his country’s troops into Ukraine.
Putin sees what he calls Russia’s “special military operation” as a turning point as Moscow finally stands up against a Western bloc, led by the United States, seeking to capitalize on the collapse of the Soviet Union. Soviet Union in 1991 by destroying Russia.
Kiev and the West say Putin there is no justification for what they have criticized as an imperialist war of occupation that has resulted in Russia now controlling about a fifth of Ukraine.
Henry Kissinger, the architect of Cold War détente toward the Soviet Union as secretary of state in the 1970s, said it was time to negotiate peace.
Kissinger wrote in The Spectator: “The time has come to build on the strategic changes that have already been made and integrate them into a new structure towards achieving peace through negotiation.
Ukraine rejected the proposal, saying it meant appeasing the aggressor by sacrificing parts of Ukraine’s territory.
“All supporters of simple solutions should remember the obvious: any deal with the devil – a wretched peace for which the Ukrainian territories will pay – will be a victory for Putin and is a recipe for success for dictators around the world,” said aide to Ukraine’s president Mykhailo Podolyak. telegram.
Kremlin officials were not available for comment late Sunday.
Zelenskyy has called for a global peace summit to help resolve the conflict and hopes to deliver a message ahead of the soccer World Cup final. He said that request was denied by football officials, but the world still heard his call for peace.
In his speech, Zelenskyy also made the latest of many calls for Western nations to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses after weeks of Russian air strikes on the country’s energy grid. .
Zelenskyy said electricity had been restored to an additional 3 million Ukrainians in the past 24 hours following Friday’s mass missile attack on electrical infrastructure that killed three people and damaged nine power facilities. harmful.
“Electricity supplies have been restored to more than three million Ukrainians,” he said. “Added six million yesterday. That means that after Friday’s terrorist attack, we’ve got the results for our nine million people.”
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions from their homes.
Zelenskyy told Ukrainians that the armed forces were holding their ground in the town of Bakhmut, the site of the heaviest fighting in the country in weeks as Russia tried to enter Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.
“The battlefield in Bakhmut is very important,” he said. “We control the town even though the occupiers are doing everything they can to keep none of the walls intact.”
Denis Pushilin, the Russian-installed administrator in the Moscow-controlled Donetsk region, said that Ukrainian forces shelled a hospital in the city of Donetsk, killing one person and injuring several others.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the battlefield accounts.


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