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Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia’s new strategy of destroying Ukraine’s infrastructure and plunging it into darkness would not weaken the country’s resolve to liberate all occupied lands, describing the conflict as a “war of strength and resilience.

Pushing back against escalating Western fears, the Ukrainian president insisted there would be no lasting resolution to the war unless Russia withdrew from all territories it occupied.

Moscow has intensified a bombing campaign against critical infrastructure in Ukraine since last month, hoping to force Kyiv to make concessions despite its advances on the battlefield.

“We have to give back all the land. . . because I believe the battlefield is the way when there is no diplomacy,” Zelenskyy told the Financial Times. “If you can’t fully recover your land, the war is simply frozen. It’s a matter of time before it starts again.

On Wednesday, Russia launched 70 missiles against infrastructure targets across Ukraine, leaving around 80% of the country in darkness and without water. Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors have been shut down because electricity has become unstable.

Speaking in the presidential office, which also had no water supply, Zelenskyy said this week’s strike was unimaginable in the modern world.

“It’s the kind of incident that hasn’t happened for I don’t know how many years, maybe 80, 90 years: a country on the European continent where there was absolutely no light.”

He said Ukrainians could despair or fight back. “The state responded superbly. Energy workers, the state emergency department, deminers, everyone worked to repair and restore power and provide at least some water.

On Thursday morning, nuclear reactors were reconnected and water began to return to parts of the capital Kyiv. “It’s a war on strength, on resilience, it’s about who is the strongest.”

Even before Wednesday’s strikes, half of the country’s electrical system had been disabled by waves of Russian missile attacks, causing power outages for millions of people. After the capital-wide water supply in Kyiv was cut off this week, some residents were forced to collect snow to melt it for washing and cooking.

Ukrainians line up to fill bottles with fresh drinking water in Kyiv on Thursday © Valentyn Ogirenko /Reuters

Ukraine is running out of replacement transformers for its Soviet-era power grid after repeated Russian missile strikes on its grid. It seeks spare parts in Poland and Lithuania and seeks to increase domestic production, but it takes four to eight months to assemble new units.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, Minister of Infrastructure, said Ukraine needed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid – in addition to continued budget support – to urgently repair its electricity system.

Zelenskyy also called on Ukraine’s western partners to provide more air defense equipment to help protect critical infrastructure, as well as supplies of diesel for emergency generators and additional gas to help offset shortages. of electricity.

The president said the attacks on civilian infrastructure showed that Moscow had no intention of negotiating an end to the war.

Kyiv has pushed back against perceived pressure to show its openness to a possible negotiated solution to the war. Some Western partners fear that any attempt by Ukraine to retake Crimea – annexed by Russia in 2014 and which it considers crucial for its security – could lead to a dangerous escalation by Moscow, or even the use of ‘nuclear weapons.

As Ukrainian forces have advanced against Russian troops in the south and east, Ukraine’s military objectives have hardened: it seeks to recover territory occupied since February and lands occupied during the Russian assault on 2014.

Zelenskyy acknowledged that the fate of Crimea was high on the international agenda.

“I understand that everyone is confused by the situation and what will happen to Crimea. If someone is ready to offer us a path regarding the disoccupation of Crimea by non-military means, I will be only in favor,” Zelenskyy said. “If the solution [does not involve] vacancy and [Crimea] is part of the Russian Federation, no one should waste time on this. It’s a waste of time.”

Zelenskyy promises Ukraine will resist Russian attacks on power grids – Financial Times

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