Zelensky Takes Surprise Trip to Liberated City



A week ago, the strategic city of Izium in eastern Ukraine was behind Russian lines. On Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit for a flag-raising ceremony in the newly liberated city, the Guardian reports. He thanked paratroopers and sang the national anthem as the Ukrainian flag was raised over the burned-out city hall. “Our blue and yellow flag is already flying in de-occupied Izium. And it will be so in every Ukrainian city and village,” he said. “We are moving in only one direction: forward towards victory.”

Zelensky said the scale of the damage in the city was shocking but not surprising, “because we began to see the same pictures from Bucha, from the first de-occupied territories … the same destroyed buildings, killed people,” the AP reports. After Russian forces pulled out of Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, in March, authorities found evidence that civilians had been tortured and murdered. Ukrainian officials say evidence of similar atrocities has been found in newly liberated areas of the Kharkiv region, where Ukrainian troops pushed the invaders back in a lightning advance this week.

Zelensky said Tuesday that “stabilization measures” are underway in liberated towns and villages in the region, CNBC reports. “Remnants of occupiers and sabotage groups are being detected, collaborators are being detained, and full security is being restored,” he said. Zelensky said 3,000 square miles of territory has been liberated by Ukrainian forces this month, per CNN, which has footage of military hardware retreating Russian forces left behind in Izium. (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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