Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said the country’s armed forces were “heroically” rebuffing Russia’s deeper invasion into the country, warning that “tomorrow, Russians will learn the price of [Russian president Vladimir] Putin’s madness.”
In a Facebook post late on Thursday, Reznikov said: “Ukraine has been repelling the Russian occupiers for more than 16 hours.”
“The Armed Forces, guardsmen, border guards, rescuers, and fighters of other security forces heroically defend themselves. The whole nation is gradually joining the resistance. Thousands of citizens have already joined the Territorial Defense Forces,” he added.
Reznikov said “heavy fighting continues” north of the capital city Kyiv where government troops were pushing back Russian forces from Hostomel airport, as well as in southern and eastern regions where government troops have battled Russian-controlled separatists since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.
“The situation in the south of the country is not easy,” Reznikov said amid reports that Russian forces had captured large swatches of territory north of Crimea. Ukrainian forces said a strategic objective there is to capture water canals to reboot fresh water supplies for Crimea which Ukraine cut off soon after the peninsula’s annexation.
“The enemy did not expect such resistance. He was stopped near Kharkiv,” the country’s second-largest city just a few dozen kilometres from Ukraine’s north-eastern border with Russia.
“We actively use samples of modern weapons received from partners . . . tomorrow, Russians will learn the price of Putin’s madness,” Reznikov said before adding, “we will not retreat on our land.”
Reznikov’s comments come as Ukrainian officials including Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser at president Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, said government troops had “beat back” Russian forces in a day-long battle over Hostomel airport north of Kyiv.
“The Russian landing party was destroyed,” he added.
Reznikov urged Ukrainians to brace for “a new wave of attacks, including air strikes” overnight.