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Ukraine’s Zelensky urges troops to be 'ready' at border with Belarus

12.01.2023 09:30
Ukraine’s president has called on his country's forces to be "ready" at the border with Belarus amid concerns that Russia could mount a new attack on Ukraine from the north.
Volodymyr Zelensky.
Volodymyr Zelensky.PAP/Newscom/Ukrainian Presidential Press Office

Volodymyr Zelensky made the appeal after meeting his senior aides in the western city of Lviv on Wednesday afternoon, according to the presidential website. 

The meeting focused on “state border protection and the current security situation in the northwestern regions of Ukraine,” officials said.

In particular, meeting participants discussed "the operational situation on the border" with Belarus, reporters were told.

Zelensky was briefed “about the condition and strengthening of fortifications on the border, as well as material support of border guards and servicemen in the regions bordering Belarus.”

‘We must be ready’

The Ukrainian president said: "We understand that, apart from powerful statements, we see nothing powerful there, but we must be ready both at the border and in the regions."

Ukrainian forces are training for the threat of a new attack across a new front in the north, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday morning. 

It said Ukraine feared Russia could build up forces on the territory of its ally Belarus before striking in the northwest, or even “try to drive towards Kyiv” as it did when it launched its invasion in February 2022.

Ukrainian troops on Wednesday practised “urban warfare, firing assault rifles, driving armoured vehicles and freeing hostages,” The Guardian also reported.

Soledar before and after Russian attacks

On Wednesday night, the NEXTA news outlet published photos showing the eastern Ukrainian salt-mining town of Soledar before the Russian assault and during the ongoing fierce combat for the town, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

Ukraine says Russia has not seized Soledar

Meanwhile, Zelensky has mocked Russian claims to have taken over parts of Soledar, saying that fighting was ongoing.

In a video address to the nation on Wednesday night, the Ukrainian president said: "The terrorist state and its propagandists are trying to pretend that some part of our city of Soledar … is allegedly some kind of Russia’s achievement.”

He added: “They will present – and are already presenting – this to their society in such a way as to support mobilisation and to give hope to those who support aggression.”

Zelensky stressed: “But the fighting continues. The Donetsk direction is holding out.”

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for the eastern group of the Ukrainian armed forces, said of the fighting in Soledar: “Russians say that it is under their control; it is not true,” The Guardian reported.

Russian troops have recently focused their efforts on seizing Soledar as part of their plan to capture the nearby strategic town of Bakhmut and Ukraine’s wider eastern Donbas region, according to news outlets.

Capturing Soledar, together with the city’s salt mines, would have a symbolic, military and commercial value for Moscow, representing its most significant gain since August, according to The Guardian

Elsewhere on the frontlines, Russian forces continued limited counterattacks near Svatove as Ukrainian troops continued counteroffensive operations near Kreminna and struck rear areas in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, the Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank, said on Wednesday night.

Thursday is day 323 of Russia’s war against Ukraine. 


Source: president.gov.ua, PAP, The Guardian, understandingwar.org