On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for comprehensive peace negotiations with Moscow and urged Switzerland to do more to combat Russian oligarchs who, he claimed, were using their money to assist war on his country.
Russia, disappointed by its failure to achieve its aims since the invasion began on February 24, is now pursuing an attrition strategy that might deepen the humanitarian disaster, according to British intelligence.
Since the Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the assault, Russian soldiers have suffered tremendous losses and their advance has virtually stagnated, with lengthy columns of troops advancing on Kyiv halting in the suburbs.
They have, however, laid siege on cities, destroying entire cities and, in recent days, intensified missile attacks on targets in western Ukraine, far from the main battlegrounds.
At an anti-war protest in Bern, Zelenskiy, who frequently makes impassioned appeals to international audiences for assistance for his country, said that Swiss banks were where the ‘money of the individuals who launched this war’ was and that their accounts should be frozen.
Cities in Ukraine ‘are being demolished on the orders of those who reside in European city, in lovely Swiss villages, and who own property in your cities. It would be fantastic to deprive them of this privilege,’ in an audio address, he stated.
Despite the fact that Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, it has completely implemented EU sanctions on Russian individuals and entities, including orders to freeze their assets in Swiss banks.
The EU penalties are part of a broader Western sanctions strategy aimed at squeezing Russia’s economy and starving its military machine, which has been denounced by China.
Zelenskiy urged Moscow to undertake peace negotiations now in a speech earlier on Saturday.
‘I want everyone, especially in Moscow, to hear me right now. It’s time for a meeting, and it’s time to talk,’ in a video address, he stated. ‘The time has arrived for Ukraine to reclaim its territorial integrity and justice. Otherwise, Russia will suffer such losses that it would take several generations for you to recover.’
British intelligence believes that Russia has been caught off guard by Ukrainian opposition to its attack and has thus far failed to achieve its initial aims.
‘Russia has been forced to adjust its operational approach and is now adopting an attrition campaign,’ according to Air Vice Marshal Mick Smeath. This policy is likely to involve the ‘indiscriminate deployment of gunfire, resulting in more civilian casualties.’
Putin, who describes the operation as a ‘special operation’ intended at demilitarising Ukraine and ridding it of ‘dangerous nationalists,’ said at a rally in Moscow on Friday that the Kremlin’s goals would be met.
Russia announced on Saturday that its hypersonic missiles had destroyed a big underground missile and aircraft ammunition storage facility in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region. It was the first time Russia employed hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, according to Interfax. Hypersonic weapons can travel at speeds up to five times the speed of sound.
The attack was verified by a representative for the Ukrainian Air Force Command, although the Ukrainian side had no information on the type of missiles deployed.
Russian forces maintained their attack in the eastern Donetsk region, according to a late Saturday night statement from Ukraine’s defence ministry, but Russian troops were forced to regroup in certain regions in Ukraine’s south, where extra reserves were deployed.
‘The psychological and moral state of the (Russian) troops is poor and worsening with each passing day of hostilities,’ the ministry added.
On Saturday, the Ukrainian military command in charge of forces in two separatist regions of eastern Ukraine said that they repelled ten attacks, destroying 28 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and armoured cars and killing more than 100 soldiers.
As of Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Office reported that at least 847 civilians have been killed and 1,399 injured in Ukraine, with the true figure likely to be far higher. 112 children were among the fatalities, according to the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office. Russia claims it is not aiming for civilians.
On Saturday, Kyiv authorities announced that 228 people, including four children, had been killed in the city alone, since Russia’s invasion began. A total of 912 persons have been injured, according to the Kyiv city administration.