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Zelensky confident of victory as he marks Ukraine’s Statehood Day

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday expressed confidence that he would emerge victorious in the face of Russia’s invasion, as he honoured a new holiday marking the country’s statehood.

It was a troubled morning with missile terror, but Ukraine would not give up, Zelensky announced in Kiev.

He congratulated citizens on the first-ever Ukrainian Statehood Day, which is celebrated in addition to Independence Day on Aug. 24.

“Ukraine is an independent, free and indivisible state. And it will be so forever,” the Ukrainian leader said.

He published an emotional video about the country’s struggle against the Russian occupiers.

The country was fighting for its freedom, he said.

Earlier, pro-Russian eastern Ukrainian separatist leader Denis Pushilin said it was time to take the cities of Kharkiv, Odessa and Kiev as well.

In the war, which has entered its sixth month, Zelensky said Ukraine has so far lost control of about 20 per cent territory.

He called for more heavy weapons from the West to stop Russian attacks and liberate occupied territories.

With the new holiday, which Zelensky had set last year, Ukraine is also countering Russian claims that it is not a real state at all, but an artificial entity.

Zelensky had repeatedly and resolutely rejected this.

Last year, for example, he declared that Orthodox Christianity spread out of Kiev more than 1,000 years ago.

In Kiev, Grand Prince Volodymyr (Vladimir) had declared Christianity the form of government on July 28, 988.

In the past, Russians and Ukrainians had celebrated it together.

The Russian parliament had also elevated the day to a national day of commemoration in 2010.

The anniversary of Christianization was already a legal commemoration day in Ukraine, but not a day off.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kherson region in the south of the country is gathering pace, according to British assessments.

“Their forces have highly likely established a bridgehead south of the Ingulets River, which forms the northern boundary of Russian-occupied Kherson,” the Ministry of Defence in London announced on Thursday.

The Inhulets is a tributary of the Dnipro River.

With the help of artillery supplied by the West, Ukrainian forces damaged at least three bridges over the Dnipro that Russia relies on to supply its occupied territories, it said, citing intelligence.

One of them was the 1-kilometre-long Antonivskiy Bridge near the city of Kherson, which was hit again on Wednesday and is now most likely unusable.

This makes the Russian 49th Army, which is stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro, look extremely vulnerable, the report said further.

The city of Kherson, the most politically important city under Russian control, was also now all but cut off from the rest of the occupied territories.

“Its loss would severely undermine Russia’s attempts to paint the occupation as a success,” the British Ministry of Defence stressed.

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Emmanuel Yashim

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