Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the city of Izium on Wednesday where he met with soldiers and thanked them for their efforts in retaking the area from Russian forces last week.
“Our soldiers are here. That’s a very important thing. It supports people,” Zelenskyy said. “I see how people meet them, in what a sensitive moment. It means that with our army, the life comes back.”
Ukrainian forces recaptured large areas in the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine as they carried out a counteroffensive seven months after Russia launched its invasion.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she would travel Wednesday to meet with Zelenskyy in Kyiv to discuss European support for Ukraine.
Von der Leyen said Europe’s “solidarity with Ukraine will remain unshakeable.”
“I stand here with the conviction that with the necessary courage and necessary solidarity, Putin will fail and Europe will prevail,” she said in her State of the European Union address.
Von der Leyen called Russia’s war in Ukraine one of “autocracy against democracy,” and said sanctions imposed against Russia “are here to stay.”
“This is the time for us to show resolve, not appeasement,” she said.
Britain’s defense ministry said Wednesday that Russia has likely used an Iranian uncrewed aerial vehicle for the first time, while Ukraine reported shooting down an Iran-made drone.
“Russia is almost certainly increasingly sourcing weaponry from other heavily sanctioned states like Iran and North Korea as its own stocks dwindle,” the ministry said.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson, whose work in recent years has focused on the release of detainees, was in Moscow this week, according to a person familiar with the matter.
It is not clear who Richardson met with, and The Richardson Center for Global Engagement declined to give details to news organizations.
Among his efforts has been advocating for Russia to release American basketball star Brittney Griner and American Paul Whelan.
Griner was sentenced last month to nine years in prison for drug possession, while Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence for espionage-related charges.
The United States has offered Russia what Secretary of State Antony Blinken said was a “substantial offer” that is believed to have included the U.S. swapping jailed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.