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Ukraine president back in Kyiv; Russia keeps up attacks



KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sounded another defiant note on his return to his nation’s capital Friday following his wartime visit to the United States, saying his forces are “working toward victory” even as Russia launched new strikes across the country.

Zelenskyy posted on his Telegram account that he’s in his Kyiv office following his U.S. trip that secured a new $1.8 billion military aid package, and pledged that “we’ll overcome everything.“ Zelenksyy’s return comes amid relentless Russian artillery, rocket and mortar fire as well as airstrikes on the eastern and southern fronts and elsewhere in Ukraine.

Moscow repeated that there would be no end to the war until its military objectives are achieved. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the war would end at the negotiating table once the “special military operation“ achieves “the goals that the Russian Federation has set,” adding that “a significant headway has been made on demilitarization of Ukraine.”

The Kremlin spokesman said no reported Ukrainian peace plan can succeed without taking into account “the realities of today that can’t be ignored,” a reference to Moscow’s demand that Ukraine recognizes Russia’s sovereignty over the Crimea Peninsula, which was annexed in 2014, as well as other territorial gains.

Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin would on Friday visit a weapons factory in Tula, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of Moscow, and chair a meeting on the country’s arms industry there.

The Ukrainian military said Russian forces fired multiple rocket launchers “more than 70 times” across Ukrainian territory overnight, while fierce battles raged around the city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region where regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said four people were killed and seven others were wounded over the past day.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Bakhmut and Lyman in the neighboring Luhansk region as well as the front line between the Luhansk and Kharkiv regions bore the brunt of the Russian strikes, but didn’t specify to what degree.

In the Kherson region, as many as 61 Russian rocket, artillery and mortar fire attacks over the past 24 hours killed one person and wounded two others. Kherson regional Gov. Yaroslav Yanushevych posted on Telegram that Russian forces attacked from dug-in positions on the right bank of the Dnieper river, hitting educational institutions, apartment blocks and private homes.

In the eastern Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, Ukraine’s military said Russia launched six missile strikes and as many air attacks on civilian targets while Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks on or near 19 settlements in the north and east.

Russian shelling overnight also struck a district hospital in the northeastern city of Volchansk, Kharkiv region, wounding five people, according to local Gov. Oleh Syniehubov. Syniehubov posted on Telegram that the four men and one woman were all in “moderate condition.

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