Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was involved in a traffic accident in Kyiv, but he is not seriously hurt, his spokesperson said in a Facebook post early on Thursday. Serhii Nykyforov, who did not say when the accident occurred, said Zelenskiy’s car had collided with a private vehicle. “The president was examined by a doctor, no serious injuries were found,” he said, adding the accident would be investigated. Medics accompanying Zelenskiy gave the driver of the private car emergency aid and put him in an ambulance, he said.
In his nightly televised address, video of which was posted shortly after the accident, Zelenskiy said he had just returned from the area around Kharkiv, adding that “almost the entire region is de-occupied” after a lightning counteroffensive to dislodge Russian troops. “It was an unprecedented movement of our soldiers – the Ukrainians once again managed to do what many thought was impossible,” he said. After visiting the liberated city of Izium, Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s troops had recaptured around 8,000 sq km (3,100 square miles) of territory.
Ukraine’s defence ministry found what its officials believe to be a “torture chamber” used by Russian troops to hold Ukrainian prisoners in the city of Balakliia. While some Balakliia residents told the Guardian that they had little interaction with the Russian forces, who mostly stayed on edges of the town, and did not experience the scenes of torture and execution seen elsewhere in the country, Serhiy Bolvinov, head of the Kharkiv region national police investigation department, said that 40 people had been detained during the occupation. One resident told the BBC that he was held by Russians in the city’s police station for more than 40 days and was tortured with electrocution.
Germany has delivered four more Gepard anti-aircraft guns and 65 refrigerators to Ukraine, the German government announced on Wednesday. The four additional units bring the total number of Gepard units provided by Germany to Ukraine to 24.
Kremlin sources “are now working to clear [Russia’s President Vladimir] Putin of any responsibly of the defeat, instead blaming the loss of almost all of occupied Kharkiv oblast on under-informed military advisers”, according to the Institute of the Study of War. In a statement reported by CNBC, the institute said that “Kremlin officials and state media propagandists are extensively discussing the reasons for the Russian defeat in Kharkiv oblast, a marked change from their previous pattern of reporting on exaggerated or fabricated Russian successes with limited detail”.
The prospects for peace in Ukraine are currently “minimal”, the UN secretary general said on Wednesday after a phone conversation with Vladimir Putin. “I have the feeling we are still far away from peace. I would be lying if I would say it could happen soon,” Guterres said, adding: “I have no illusion; at the present moment the chances of a peace deal are minimal.” Even a ceasefire was “not in sight”, he said.
Putin still believes he was right to launch an invasion of Ukraine, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said on Wednesday after a 90-minute telephone call with the Russian president. “Sadly, I cannot tell you that the impression has grown that it was a mistake to begin this war,” Scholz said in a press briefing.
Eight Russian missiles that struck Kryvyi Rih on Wednesday were directed at hydraulic structures, causing enough damage that the water level of the Inhulets river was rising and posing a serious threat to the city. This aligns with Ukraine’s concerns that Russia will continue to target Ukraine’s infrastructure in retribution for its success in regaining occupied territory. Kryvyi Rih is Zelenskiy’s home town.
Russian troops have returned to Kreminna, a city in the Russian-occupied Luhansk region that was “completely empty” yesterday, said Serhiy Hadai, the region’s governor, and tore down the Ukrainian flags that local partisans had raised in celebration. Yesterday, a similar situation happened in Svatove – Russian troops left but returned after some time, Hadai said. Russian troops also left Starobilsk, another city in the Luhansk region.