Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his country’s attacks on the Russian Navy in the Black Sea had paralyzed Moscow’s war efforts, while he sought to support his forces even as the world expected immediate successes from them.
Despite a months-long offensive by Kiev, the broad front line in the east and south of the country has budged little over the past year, drawing criticism and impatience from some of Ukraine’s Western allies.
“We live in a world that is accustomed to success very quickly… When the full-scale invasion began, many around the world didn’t believe that Ukraine would survive,” Zelensky said in his video speech Tuesday evening.
“Glory to those who don’t back down, who don’t burn out, who believe in Ukraine just as they did on February 24, and who fight for it relentlessly,” he added.
The war launched by Russia on February 24, 2022 against Ukraine has now entered its twentieth month with no end in sight.
Meanwhile, Russian forces are preparing to launch massive attacks on several fronts.
Zelensky said that his forces had succeeded in reducing Moscow’s military power in the Black Sea, adding that this could lead, with greater support from Kiev’s allies, to Ukraine’s final victory over Russia.
The Black Sea became a focal point in the war, as Ukraine’s increasing air and sea attacks using aircraft and drone boats on Russian military targets there caused damage to ship repair yards in the port of Sevastopol, and struck other targets.
Moscow is using its Black Sea fleet to launch long-range strikes on Ukraine, however, for President Vladimir Putin, these waters connected to the Mediterranean are also an important starting point for extending influence in the Middle East, Europe and the West.
“When we ensure more security in the Black Sea, Russia will lose any ability to dominate this region and expand its malicious influence to other countries,” Zelensky said.
The full extent of the damage Ukraine has inflicted on the Russian fleet in the Black Sea in the past few months isn’t yet clear.
Brief Russian Defense Ministry statements mostly indicate success in destroying offensive weapons.
“Ukraine’s success in the Black Sea battle will be recorded in the history books, although it is not discussed much today,” Zelensky said.
At the same time, Vitaly Barabash, head of the military administration in Avdiivka, said that the eastern city is preparing for a new wave of attacks that it has been facing since mid-October.
“The enemy is bringing in forces and equipment… Our youth are preparing for a new wave,” Barabash told Ukrainian television.
Ukrainian ground forces said on Tuesday that Russian forces were also focusing on Kobyansk, a city in the northeast of the country that Russia overran in the early days of the invasion but was recaptured by Ukrainian forces last year.