Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Putin jabs at West over Ukraine war, says operation going to plan

Putin jabs at West over Ukraine war, says operation going to plan
October 28, 2022 Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin showed no regrets for the war against Ukraine, insisting it was going to plan and playing down any nuclear standoff with the West, while both sides prepared for what could be a key battle in Kherson in Ukraine's south.

Putin had a familiar litany of grievances against "Western opponents" as he addressed a conference in Moscow on Thursday, accusing the West of inciting the war and of playing a "dangerous, bloody and dirty" game that was sowing chaos.

The West's dominance over world affairs was coming to an end and "ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and, at the same time, important decade since the end of World War Two", Putin told the conference.

The Ukraine conflict, which began on Feb. 24 when Russian forces invaded, has killed thousands, displaced millions, shaken the global economy and reopened Cold War-era divisions.

In recent weeks, Russia has unleashed a wave of missile and drone strikes, hitting Ukraine's energy infrastructure and forcing power cuts in Kyiv and other places, officials said.

The attacks "will not break us", President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address on Thursday as he stood in the dark beside the wreckage of a downed drone.

"To hear the enemy's anthem on our land is scarier than the enemy's rockets in our sky. We are not afraid of the dark."

Early on Friday, the Ukrainian military provided a summary of battlefield action in Kherson, where Ukrainian and Russian forces have been preparing for weeks for what could be one of the most consequential battles of the war.

Kherson, one of four partially occupied provinces that Russia proclaimed annexed last month, controls both the only land route to the Crimea peninsula that Russia seized in 2014, and the mouth of the Dnipro river that bisects Ukraine.

Russia has urged people in Kherson to flee ahead of an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Sergey Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed leader of Crimea, wrote on the Telegram messaging service that the work to move Kherson residents to regions of Russia had been completed.

He also said Putin's first deputy chief of staff, Sergei Kiriyenko, has visited Kherson.

The Ukrainian military said in a Facebook post that its forces in Kherson had killed 44 Russian servicemen in 24 hours, and destroyed an ammunition depot and a hangar with equipment.

However, Ukrainian officials have said tough terrain and bad weather had held up their main advance in Kherson.

On Thursday, a close ally of Putin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, said 23 of his soldiers had been killed and 58 wounded in a Ukrainian artillery attack this week in Kherson. After the attack, Chechen forces killed about 70 Ukrainians, he said.