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Zelenskiy discusses need to fortify Ukraine’s defenses along front

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (The Presidential Office of Ukraine)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy traveled to the southern region of Zaporizhzhya on November 30 for meetings with military leaders, saying afterward that the fortification of frontline areas should be accelerated.

Speaking in his evening address, Zelenskiy referred to areas of the Donetsk region, saying they will receive “maximum attention.” He also noted the need to strengthen defensive lines at Lyman and Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine, where he met earlier with Ukrainian troops and visited a school and an underground shelter.

He said one of his meetings in the Zaporizhzhya region was on the construction of fortifications “primarily [in] Avdiyivka and Maryinka and other areas in the Donetsk region.” He also mentioned other regions, including Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kyiv, which have been regularly targeted by Russian forces.

Zelenskiy also said he spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov and thanked them for their support.

“We have reasons to be grateful to our partners. All of our agreements are being put into action,” he said. “We also coordinated new joint steps to protect our people, our Europe, and the international order.”

Ukraine’s commander in chief, General Valeriy Zaluzhniy, reported on November 30 that he spoke by phone with U.S. Air Force General Charles Q. Brown Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss the situation at the front.

Zaluzhniy said on Facebook that he told Brown that Ukrainian troops are causing the enemy to suffer significant losses in troops and equipment across the front line, and Brown “agreed to continue joint work on finding technological solutions to gain superiority over the enemy in air, fire attack and demining.”

During a stop earlier on November 30, Zelenskiy presented awards to soldiers in Kupyansk for their efforts to “protect the peaceful life of Ukrainians and the people of Kharkiv region,” a statement from the president’s office said.

Zelenskiy, who was accompanied by Defense Minister Rustem Umerov and senior adviser Andriy Yermak, met with General Oleksandr Syrskiy, the commander of that sector of the front.

He was briefed on the situation along the Kupyansk-Lyman defense line, where Russian forces have been pushing in an attempt to regain territory they lost to a Ukrainian blitz offensive last year.

The operational situation in the east and south of Ukraine remains difficult, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said in its evening summary on November 30. There were 73 combat clashes along the front during the day, it said.

The General Staff also reported that Russian troops conducted “unsuccessful” assaults in a number of directions, including in Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, Maryinka, and Zaporizhzhya.

In Washington, White House national-security spokesman John Kirby said the United States has been working with Ukraine to prepare for an anticipated winter attack by Russia. Kirby said the United States expects Russia will again try to destroy Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure and has therefore been providing equipment and supplies to keep people from losing heat and electricity.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said Russian troops carried out an air strike on the city of Toretsk in the Donetsk region on November 30, killing one person and injuring three others. Two people were rescued from the rubble of a house, which was destroyed in the attack, the service said on Telegram.

Russian shelling killed two people in Novogrodivka, a city about 90 kilometers southwest of Toretsk. A rescue operation was still ongoing late on November 30, the Interior Ministry said, adding that a family of three may be under the rubble.

Russian shelling earlier on November 30 killed one civilian and wounded five others in Darivka in the southern Kherson region, the press service of the regional military administration reported.

It said a dozen residential buildings, a kindergarten, and a hospital were damaged in the shelling.

In the eastern region of Donetsk, at least 10 civilians were wounded by Russian shelling overnight, regional Governor Ihor Moroz said on November 30.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said Russian troops fired six S-300 missiles at Pokrovsk and shelled Myrnograd, a city east of Pokrovsk. Four of the 10 wounded people are children, he said.

“As a result of the shelling, 10 people were wounded, including four children. They are looking for five missing people under the rubble,” Klymenko said.

Russian forces also shelled Ukraine’s northeastern region of Sumy, the Prosecutor General’s Office said on November 30, without giving details about casualties or damages.

Separately, Ukraine’s air defense said it shot down 14 out of the 20 Iranian-made drones that Russia launched at Ukrainian territory early on November 30.