Ukraine’s Zelenskiy checks Kharkiv fortifications as Russia intensifies attacks

By Thomson Reuters Apr 9, 2024 | 12:12 PM

KHARKIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy inspected lines of fortifications in the northeastern Kharkiv region on Tuesday and issued a fresh appeal for military support to protect the country’s second largest city from intensified attacks.

Zelenskiy visited the city, 30 km (18 miles) from the Russian border, and the surrounding region, amid what he described as a campaign by Moscow to drive people from the area.

He thanked residents and business people for withstanding the threat, staying on and maintaining life in the city.

“Strengthening this direction is very important. Russian terrorists must see that Kharkiv is getting stronger,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

“I am grateful to everyone who has been worked these weeks to give Kharkiv and the region more electricity, to give more protection against Russian strikes.”

Kharkiv has suffered extensive damage from months of Russian bombardment since President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

In recent weeks, the situation has deteriorated as, in addition to frequent missile and drone attacks, Russian forces started using powerful guided bombs to attack the city.

Oleh Syniehubov, Kharkiv regional governor, said Russian forces struck the city twice with bombs on Tuesday, triggering a fire and damaging buildings. Four people were injured.

In a video posted online, Zelenskiy was seen talking to troops and making his way through a trench as excavators dug up land nearby. He said that energy workers and officials were working to eliminate power shortages in the city.

Hundreds of thousands of residents suffered long power cuts after a major Russian strike in late March.

Ukraine is struggling to protect its cities from almost daily Russian strikes amid shortages of ammunition and air defence systems and a slowdown in supplies from its Western partners.

A $60 billion aid package has been held up in the U.S. Congress since last year amid domestic political wrangling.

“Everything that Putin touches turns into ruins. We must do everything possible and impossible to protect as many of our cities and communities as possible from it,” Zelenskiy said.

“Life must be victorious.”

(Reporting by Olena Harmash; Editing by Ron Popeski and Jonathan Oatis)