International Desk, Oct 4 (EFE).- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday said that his country’s army is making “a rather rapid and powerful advance” in the south after Russia’s attempt to annex several regions.
“Dozens of settlements have already been liberated just this week from the fake Russian referendum, in the Kherson region, the Kharhiv region, the Luhansk region and the Donetsk region together,” Zelenskyy said during his regular evening speech.
The Ukrainian offensive, he said, is part of “the current defensive operation,” adding that – according to military reports from the Kherson region – at least eight towns have been “liberated from the occupier and stabilized. And that is far from a complete list.”
Zelenskyy said that “it’s just a question of time before we expel the occupier from all our lands.”
It is the Kremlin, he added, that is doing “absolutely everything so that the war ends only on the battlefield, not at the negotiating table.”
Zelenskyy said that Russia is responding to different Ukrainian proposals to “halt the aggression and liberate our territory with terror, criminal mobilization and political farce.”
He emphasized that this “is a threat to any state anywhere in the world. After all, if someone tries to steal the territory of a neighboring people, then others could get the same idea.”
Moscow on Tuesday finalized parliamentary procedures to officially incorporate into Russia the four territories it partially occupies in the eastern and southern part of Ukraine, after which Kyiv issued a decree closing the door to any peace dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and declaring the annexation to be null and void.
The so-called treaties to incorporate the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions on Tuesday received the green light from the Russian Senate, where lawmakers unanimously backed the move.
Now, the documents await only Putin’s signature to enter into force, something that presumably will be accomplished later on Tuesday, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov.
Meanwhile, in Washington, President Joe Biden on Tuesday informed Zelenskyy that the US will provide Kyiv with a new military aid package valued at $625 million.
According to a White House statement, Biden – who was accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris on the telephone call in which he relayed information about the aid package to his Ukrainian counterpart – reiterated Washington’s support for the defense of Ukraine for “as long as it takes” to resist the Russian invasion.
The Pentagon said in a statement that the assistance includes four HIMARS long-range artillery systems, 16 howitzers, 75,000 artillery rounds for 155 mm guns and 1,000 remote anti-armor howitzer rockets, each containing nine anti-tank mines.
The aid also includes, among other things, 30,000 120 mm mortar rounds, 200 Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles, 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition and an undetermined number of Claymore antipersonnel mines, which are activated by remote control and spray a deadly barrage of metal pellets at the target.
During the call, Biden also said that the US is ready to impose “severe costs” on any individual, entity or country that provides support to Russian forces in annexing Ukrainian territory.
In addition, he hailed the “success” of the agreement that has allowed “secure” exportation of Ukrainian grain to world markets and added that this must continue.
Before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February, the US had already provided military assistance to Kyiv and training to its troops, but this aid has been markedly increased after the conflict erupted.
According to Pentagon figures, the US had delivered more than $17.5 billion in military aid to Kyiv since last January, of which more than $16.8 billion has been distributed since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24.
Since 2014, the year in which Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula – formerly Ukrainian territory – Washington has provided more than $19.6 billion to Kyiv.