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Zelenskiy Pays Surprise Visit to Recaptured Town of Izium in Northeast Ukraine

Published: September 16, 2022
In this screenshot, Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskiy is seen meeting with soldiers in the retaken town of Izium on September 14, 2022. (Image: via Reuters)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy paid a surprise visit on Wednesday, Sept. 14 to the newly recaptured town of Izium, a key logistics hub in the northeastern Kharkiv region, and thanked his army for their success in retaking territory from Russian forces.

Thousands of Russian troops fled Izium at the weekend, leaving behind large amounts of ammunition and equipment, in their worst defeat since they were driven back from the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in March.

Commenting on the devastation he had seen in Izium, Zelenskiy said: “It’s not a shock for me… because we saw the same scenes as in Bucha… The same destroyed buildings and people killed.”

Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, was occupied for a short period of time by invading Russian forces. Ukraine and its Western allies have accused the Russian forces of perpetrating war crimes there, something Moscow denies.

Izium, which had a prewar population of about 50,000, is located on an important highway that runs from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, to the eastern city of Sloviansk, seized by Russian forces in July.

Zelenskiy said in a late night address on Sept. 12 that his army had now liberated around 8,000 square km (3,100 square miles) of territory so far this month, though Russia still holds about a fifth of Ukraine.

He has vowed to recapture all Ukrainian territory from Russian forces, including Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.

“We will come. I don’t know when. Nobody knows when. But we have plans, so we’ll come, because it’s our land and our people,” he said.

By Reuters. (Production: Anna Voitenko, Margaryta Chornokondratenko)