Less than 24 hours after the invasion of Ukraine began with a bombardment, encroaching forces have secured a position that seemingly can’t be shelled.
The Thursday capture of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant complex gives Russian forces a staging ground less than 60 miles from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. To make matters worse for the isolated Ukraine, gains made against it have been followed with terms of surrender from Moscow.
Not all is lost for Ukraine, however: Victories from the country’s military show the Ukrainian people are still in the fight.
“The combat spirit of Ukrainian military is high,” Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, told media at the Washington, D.C. embassy, Reuters reported. “We are fighting, we will be fighting – not only our brave and motivated military but all Ukrainians.”
Ukraine’s stalwart determination comes as its forces begin wearing down Russian equipment. The government said that nine invading aircraft have been downed.
An entire Russian platoon, the 74th Motor Rifles Brigade, has even surrendered to Ukrainian forces, Markarova claimed.
The war is still exacting a deadly toll on the Ukrainian people. Officials figures show 40 soldiers dead, with dozens of civilians killed in the conflict as well.
Russia’s gains in the south have been swift, with invading troops’ 50-mile northward push capturing the town of Oleshky in the Kherson region. According to a translated version of the local Kherson government’s updates, Russian troops also hold the nearby bridge and are pouring troops deeper into Ukraine across the Dnieper River.
The Dnieper, which bisects the country along its curving north-to-south flow, could prove a difficult objective for Ukraine alone to take back.
At the northern end of the river, near where it crosses into Belarus, things are no better for the defenders.
Russia now holds the Chernobyl complex, an unexpected seizure that gives Moscow a major advantage just a stone’s throw from Kyiv. The area is site of a major nuclear disaster that happened in 1986. The plant’s Soviet-era meltdown threatened to engulf much of Europe in deadly radiation.
Video from the complex shows Russian armor patrolling the grounds.
— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) February 24, 2022
Now, as Ukrainian officials noted during the fight for the complex, the risk has not vanished.
Just one wayward shell is all it could take to breach containment and plunge Europe into even more danger. While it’s unclear if Russia plans to use this position in a move against Kyiv itself, Moscow has now issued terms of surrender to Ukraine — conditions the country must meet for invasion forces to leave the area.
Reported by state-funded Russia Today, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov revealed Ukraine has to meet two demands for hostilities to cease.
One: Ukraine must remain neutral. This would kill the republic’s dreams of NATO membership and doom it to a future as a satellite of Russia.
Two: Leadership must vow to not host foreign weapons in its territory. This would defang Ukraine, and leave it to the whims of the man in Moscow.
It’s clear that these terms are unacceptable to Ukraine, and despite Russia’s advances, it appears as though these terms will not be forced into action so soon. With NATO still deliberating on what to do about the conflict and no friends in sight, Ukrainians now face the fight of their life.
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