In certain regions of eastern Ukraine, where the Russian offensive has been concentrated for weeks, “the enemy is clearly superior in terms of equipment, in the number of soldiers”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr admitted on Wednesday evening. Zelensky.
But, he immediately added in his daily video message, the Ukrainian forces and both who defend the country “are resisting the extremely violent offensive of Russian troops in the east”.
“We need help from our partners, especially weapons,” he said. On the same day, his Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also called for more heavy weapons.
Ukraine wishes to receive mobile units capable of sending several rockets simultaneously. “This is really the weapon that we badly need,” Kuleba said after a series of talks with government officials and business leaders at the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland.
“The battle for Donbass is very similar to the battles of the Second World War,” he told reporters.
According to him, “some villages and towns no longer exist” in this region of eastern Ukraine, which has been under intense bombardment for days.
“They were reduced to rubble by Russian artillery fire, by Russian multiple rocket launchers,” the minister explained, adding that this was precisely the kind of weaponry his country lacked.
Russian forces are getting closer every day to Severodonetsk, a city of some 100,000 inhabitants before the war, whose capture is essential for them to fully control the Donbass, a mining basin already partly occupied by pro-Russian separatists supported by Moscow. .
So much so that “the Russian troops have advanced to be so close that they can fire mortars” on Severodonetsk, assured Wednesday Serguiï Gaïdaï, the governor of the region.
According to him, the city “is simply being destroyed”.
“The situation in the city is very difficult. Yesterday, there was already fighting on the outskirts” of Severodonetsk, continued Mr. Gaïdaï, who estimated that “next week will be decisive”.
– “Not surrounded” –
However, he said Wednesday evening, the city “is not surrounded”, contrary to what an official of the pro-Russian separatists said. About 15,000 people are still there and in the surrounding villages, he said, adding that the overwhelming majority of them did not want to move despite the incessant shelling.
In this region, the towns on the front line have been emptied of their inhabitants, the recalcitrant, often elderly, spending most of their time hiding in cellars.
As in the town of Soledar, a few tens of kilometers from Severodonetsk, where Natalia, 47, went up in the open air “just to see people”. “We need to know that we are not alone and that there is always life around here,” she said.
In the nearby town of Lysychansk, police have taken over funeral services to bury the dead, Gaidai said. At least 150 people must have been buried there in a mass grave, he added.
“Countries that are dragging their feet on the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine must understand that every day they spend deciding, weighing different arguments, people are killed”, hammered in Davos the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs .
And amid concerns over Ukraine’s current inability to export its grain due to Russian blockades of its ports, he reported kyiv’s discussions with the United Nations on the possibility of safe passage to from the port of Odessa.
Speaking by videoconference to Davos, President Zelensky for his part called on his Western allies on Wednesday to stop sparing Russia or its interests.
“Whatever the Russian state does, there is always someone to say: let’s take its interests into account. This year in Davos, we heard it again,” he lamented.
“We must do everything possible to make the world a permanent habit of taking Ukraine into account. So that the interests of Ukrainians are not supplanted by the interests of those who are always in a hurry to rush to a another meeting with the dictator,” he said, without naming Russian President Vladimir Putin.
– “United Europe” –
Earlier Wednesday, he had called for the “support of a united Europe”, deploring the lack of cohesion of Westerners in the face of this war which has just entered its fourth month.
On the southern front, Moscow is busy consolidating its hold on the territories conquered for three months.
Russia has thus announced that it will allow residents of the Zaporijjia and Kherson regions to apply for a Russian passport via “a simplified procedure”. Ukraine immediately denounced a measure demonstrating Moscow’s desire to carry out a pure and simple annexation of these territories.
“The forced granting of passports to Ukrainians in Kherson and Zaporizhia is further proof of the criminal aim of Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
On the diplomatic front, European Council President Charles Michel said he remained “confident” of an agreement on an EU embargo on Russian oil by the start of the European Council on Monday, despite the Hungarian deadlock.
An essential measure according to kyiv, which on Wednesday in Davos called on the international community to “kill Russian exports”.