(Kyiv) Ukraine congratulated itself on Wednesday for having “defeated winter terror”, marked by intense Russian bombardments which plunged millions of people into the cold, with Russia announcing a “massive” attack. of drones in annexed Crimea.
The ten Ukrainian aircraft sent to this peninsula have all been neutralized, the Russian army said. This is the second day in a row that Moscow has reported a drone attack.
“It was cold and dark, but we were unbreakable,” said the head of Ukrainian diplomacy Dmytro Kouleba for his part about the winter his country went through. “Ukraine has conquered winter terror,” he added, just over a year after the Russian invasion began.
He felt that the European Union had “also won”, because it “did not freeze without the Russian gas”, targeted by sanctions. Russia, which was one of the main suppliers to Europe, had relayed catastrophic predictions in the event of a cut in supplies.
“Our partners have stood by our side by helping us,” noted Mr. Kouleba, adding: “There is still a long way to go until final victory. But we already know how to win”.
The Secretary of the Security and Defense Council, Oleksiï Danilov, for his part wished his fellow citizens a “happy first day of the Ukrainian spring”. “So, did they manage to freeze us? “, he quipped.
Attack on Crimea
The winter in Ukraine was marked by a long series of Russian strikes using missiles and explosive drones, which hit energy sites, regularly causing massive cuts in electricity, heating and running water.
The Russian bombing had forced the national operator Ukrenergo to set up supplies intermittently, while the Ukrainian emergency services were busy repairing each damaged plant.
Millions of people, including in Kyiv and other major cities, have been left without heating in winter temperatures.
Kyiv’s Western allies gradually provided it with air defense systems, and Russia decreased the frequency and scale of its attacks.
Ukrenergo confirmed Wednesday that the Ukrainian electricity system had not encountered damage for 18 days and that no cuts were planned.
The Russian army for its part claimed to have repelled a “massive” drone attack on Crimea on Wednesday, a territory which Russia annexed in 2014 and which it uses as a rear base and port for its fleet, targeted several times. since the start of the war.
The day before, several Russian regions, including for the first time that of Moscow, had been the target of Ukrainian drones.
Throughout the winter, fighting has been concentrated in eastern Ukraine, particularly around the fortress city of Bakhmout, where the Ukrainian army on Tuesday reported an “extremely tense” situation in the face of repeated assaults.
Minsk backs Chinese plan
Russian troops have taken several localities north of Bakhmout in recent weeks, tightening their grip on this city and cutting three of the four roads that allow it to be supplied.
On Wednesday morning, AFP journalists found that the road to Bakhmout and Chassiv Iar, a town just to the west, had been closed to traffic by the police.
The spokesman for the eastern command of the Ukrainian army, Serguiï Tcherevaty, denied to AFP that a Ukrainian withdrawal from Bakhmout was in progress.
A possible withdrawal “will depend on the operational situation. So far, such a decision has not been taken,” he said.
Further north on this part of the front, Ukrainian doctors were trying to treat soldiers wounded in the fighting.
“Here, someone is saved every day,” says Igor, an anesthesiologist, after examining a patient.
“He was seriously injured, he had a lot of trauma, to both shoulders, to the right lung, to the left thigh. The right lung was (perforated) right through, the same for the left thigh. He lost a lot of blood,” he said.
On the diplomatic front, one of Moscow’s main allies, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, said on Wednesday during a rare visit to China that he “totally” supports Chinese peace proposals for Ukraine.
In this 12-point document, Beijing urges Russians and Ukrainians in particular to dialogue, but also insists on respect for territorial integrity and opposes any recourse to nuclear weapons.
If Westerners generally welcomed this Chinese diplomatic intervention with skepticism, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was ready to “work” with China and announced his intention to also meet his counterpart Xi Jinping.