Kremlin vows to retake Ukrainian areas where Russia has retreated

Moscow, Russia - The Kremlin is promising to reoccupy areas of Ukraine that were recently liberated in Kyiv's swift counteroffensive, claiming they will belong to Russia "forever."

Ukrainian troops have taken control over several regions the Kremlin has vowed to retake.
Ukrainian troops have taken control over several regions the Kremlin has vowed to retake.  © Juan BARRETO / AFP

Kremlin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was referring to eastern regions of Ukraine that Moscow has annexed – in a move that has been branded illegal by most other countries – and which are, at least partially, under the control of Ukrainian troops following embarrassing battlefield defeats and retreats.

"There is no contradiction here," Peskov explained. He said that even though Russian troops have withdrawn from some areas at the moment, those regions will eventually be reconquered.

"They will be with Russia forever; they will be retaken," Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, according to Russian state news agencies.

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Emphasizing his point, Peskov continued: "I repeat once again: certain territories will be retaken and we will continue consultations with the populations that will express the wish to live in Russia," the TASS news agency reported.

Hours earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law passed this week by lawmakers that annexes four eastern and southern Ukrainian regions.

The legislation finalizes – under Russian law – the accession of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya, all of which are still claimed by Ukraine.

The move makes the regions Russian territory in the eyes of Moscow and raises the risks that it could interpret Ukraine's accelerating counteroffensive as an attack on Russian territory. Kyiv has vowed to free all of its territory occupied by Russia.

Ukraine continues its counteroffensive

Ukraine's assault is reportedly causing problems for Russia.
Ukraine's assault is reportedly causing problems for Russia.  © Anatolii STEPANOV / AFP

The Ukrainian army said on Wednesday it had seized more localities in the south of the country after also making territorial gains on Tuesday in Kherson.

Parts of Donetsk and Luhansk have been controlled by groups claiming loyalty to Russia since 2014. Russia also annexed Crimea in 2014.

Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, arguing that it was necessary to demilitarize the country and remove Nazi elements from its leadership. After an initial push deep into Ukraine, it has largely been confined to the east but is still in control of about 16% of Ukrainian territory.

Zelensky concedes dire Ukrainian position as Russian forces continue rapid advance
Ukraine conflict Zelensky concedes dire Ukrainian position as Russian forces continue rapid advance

The question of the Russian annexation is set to come before the UN Security Council on Monday.

According to British intelligence, Ukraine's assault is causing problems for Russia in supplying its troops.

Ukrainian formations in the northeastern Kharkiv region, for example, had advanced up to 20 kilometers beyond the Oskil River into the Russian defense zone, the British Defense Ministry's daily brief said on Wednesday. The troops were thus approaching a supply hub in the town of Svatove.

"It is highly likely that Ukraine can now strike the key Svatove-Kremina road with most of its artillery systems, further straining Russia’s ability to resupply its units in the east," the update said.

Russia utilizes kamikaze drones

Russia meanwhile attacked targets near the Ukrainian capital with kamikaze drones for the first time, according to Kyiv authorities on Wednesday.

"There were six hits and explosions," said Kyiv Governor Oleksiy Kuleba on Telegram. Infrastructure was hit, and one person was injured in the small town of Bila Tserkva.

The air force reported 12 Iranian drones flew from the south towards the targets. "Six of them were shot down," both by soldiers and anti-aircraft missiles, said spokesperson Yuri Ihnat to Ukrainian television. The information cannot be independently verified.

A military barracks site in Bila Tserkva was the target, according to media reports. The closest Russian soldiers are located about 380 kilometers to the south. Belarus, allied with Russia, is about 180 kilometers away from the town.

Cover photo: Juan BARRETO / AFP

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