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'Even Russians expect defeat,' says Zelenskyy

July 24, 2022

As the war enters its sixth month, the Ukrainian president vows his forces will "inflict the highest possible damage on the enemy." Russia said the Odesa strikes hit military installations. DW rounds up the latest.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivers his nightly video address on July 13, 2022
Russia's invasion of Ukraine entered its sixth month on SundayImage: Ukrainian Presidential Press Off/Planet Pix/ZUMA/picture alliance

Ukrainian forces will continue to inflict as much damage on Russia's military as possible, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Sunday.

"Even the occupiers admit we will win," he added. "We hear it in their conversations all the time. In what they are telling their relatives when they call them."

Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was not letting up, as the conflict entered its sixth month on Sunday.

"We do everything to inflict the highest possible damage on the enemy and to gather for Ukraine as much support as possible."

As the country prepared to mark the day of Ukrainian statehood, a national holiday, on Thursday, the president said "we will celebrate against all odds. Because Ukrainians won't be cowed."

Ukrainian forces fight to regain Kherson region

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on July 24.

Moscow: Odesa strikes targeted military facilities

Russia confirmed firing missiles at Odesa but insisted the targets were only military installations.

"Kalibr missiles destroyed Odesa port's military infrastructure" including a "Ukrainian military boat," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Sunday.

The defense ministry said the attack also destroyed a warehouse where US-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missiles were kept. According to the statement carried by the Interfax news agency, the strike also crippled a ship repair facility.

The Saturday strike came only one day after Ukraine and Russia agreed to allow the export of grain in a UN-brokered initiative. 

The deal was struck with the help of Turkey.

The port is crucial for any grain export from Ukraine.

Steinmeier: Putin waging 'war against unity of Europe'

Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine is also "a war against the unity of Europe," German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday.

"We must not let ourselves be divided, we must not let the great work of a united Europe that we have begun so promisingly be destroyed," he said in a speech at the Libori Festival in Paderborn.

"This war is not just about the territory of Ukraine, it is about the double shared foundation of our values and our order of peace," he said.

Steinmeier called on people to be prepared to defend those values and also to "accept significant disadvantages," in doing so. 

"Are we ready for that? We are all facing this question, today and in the days, weeks and months to come," he said. 

Canadian believed to be a foreign fighter killed in Ukraine

Canada said on Sunday that one of its citizens died in Ukraine.

"Global Affairs Canada is aware of the death of a Canadian in Ukraine. Consular officials are in contact with the family and are providing consular assistance," a Canadian foreign ministry spokesperson said, without providing further details.

On Saturday, Politico reported two Americans, a Canadian and a Swedish citizen, were killed this week when a Russian tank opened fire on them in the eastern Donetsk region.

They were fighting with the Ukrainian military, Ruslan Miroshnichenko, the foreign fighters' commander, told the publication.

The deaths of the two US citizens were confirmed on Saturday by the State Department.

Ukraine speculates it will retake Kherson by September

A Ukrainian official has speculated that the military will retake the southern Kherson region from Russian forces by September.

Sergiy Khlan, an aide to the head of the Kherson region, told Ukrainian TV that Ukrainian forces were "prevailing" in recent military operations. 

"We can say that we are switching from defensive to counteroffensive actions," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying to state TV.

Kherson was captured by the Russians shortly after their invasion of Ukraine in February. Long-range artillery recently supplied by the West has however emboldened Ukrainian troops.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, has quoted Khlan as saying that Ukrainian forces have already seized some settlements in Kherson.

Khlan however urged Ukrainian civilians to refrain from addressing any progress on the ground until the Ukrainian military officially announces it, the AP news agency reported.

Kherson is an integral region for Ukrainian agriculture. It is close to the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014.

Pope Francis says he wants to visit Kyiv

Speaking to reporters on a flight from Rome to Canada Sunday, Pope Francis said he had a "great desire to go to Kyiv" to try and bring an end to the five-month-long war.

The pontiff told Reuters news agency earlier this month that he hopes to visit Kyiv and Moscow after his trip to Canada.

No pope has ever visited Moscow. Pope Francis has condemned what he has called Moscow's "cruel and senseless war of aggression" in Ukraine.

Ukraine's Zelenskyy slams 'Russian barbarism' in Odesa

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy slammed the reported missile strikes on the Black Sea port of Odesa and said they undermined Russia's political position.

"This apparent Russian barbarism brings us even closer to obtaining the very weapons we need for our victory," Zelenskyy said,

Ukraine's president accused Moscow of shelling the port of Odesa a day after an agreement for the export of Ukrainian grain was signed in Istanbul

"If anyone in the world could still say that some kind of dialogue with it, with Russia, some kind of agreements are needed, see what is happening," Zelenskyy said.

"Today's Russian Kalibr missiles have destroyed the very possibility for such statements," he stressed.

Zelenskyy also said that Ukrainian forces were "advancing step by step" toward recapturing the southern Kherson region, most of which has been under Russian occupation since the early stages of Moscow's invasion.

North Korea echoes Russian claim of US 'biolabs' in Ukraine

North Korean state media on Sunday accused the US of setting up biological weapons facilities in Ukraine, echoing a Russian claim that was dismissed by the UN in March.

The US "set up many biological labs in tens of countries and regions, including Ukraine, in disregard of the international treaties," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, claiming such labs were "detected" by Russia.

There was no immediate reason provided as to why KCNA repeated the accusations at this time.

North Korea is allied with Moscow and has recognized two self-proclaimed pro-Russian separatist "republics" in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv subsequently cut diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

The US and Ukraine both deny the Russian bioweapons lab claims. The US has said allegations from Moscow are a sign that Russia may be using such tactics itself.

Ukraine to continue preparing for grain exports — infrastructure minister

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said that Kyiv was continuing to prepare to restart grain exports from its Black Sea ports despite a missile strike that hit Odesa on Saturday.

"We continue technical preparations for the launch of exports of agricultural products from our ports," Kubrakov wrote on Facebook.

Kubrakov accused Moscow of aiming to "ruin [Ukraine's] infrastructure" and destroy its economy. He added that Russia had shown the world its "true intentions" by launching a missile strike on the Odesa port.

Kyiv says 5,000 women fighting for Ukraine on the front

According to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar, 5,000 women are currently fighting on the front as part of Ukraine's armed forces.

Maliar said that more than 50,000 women serve in Ukraine's army in total.

Maliar made the comments at an international summit for First Ladies and Gentlemen, held in Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Catch up on DW's Ukraine content

UN chief Antonio Guterres said he "unequivocally condemns" the strikes in Odesa and top EU diplomat Josep Borrell called the attacks "reprehensible."

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Russia "told us that they had absolutely nothing to do with this attack and they were looking into the issue very closely."

A delegation of senior US lawmakers met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv in the latest of a series of high-profile US visits to Ukraine.

sdi/sri, jsi (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)