DIn an address to the Luxembourg Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured that Russian forces currently control “about 20%” of Ukrainian territory. “Today, about 20% of our territory is under the control of the occupiers, (i.e.) nearly 125,000 km², it is much more than the territory of all the Benelux countries”, indicated Volodymyr Zelensky, in a message the original version of which was sent to journalists by the Ukrainian Presidency.
By comparison, Russian forces controlled, before the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, “over 43,000 km²”, he added. Since 2014, Russian forces have controlled the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow, and, with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, around a third of the Donbass mining basin. The Ukrainian president did not detail what was included in the new figure of 125,000 km2.
The south and east of Ukraine in the sights of the Kremlin
The Russians have, since the start of the invasion, taken control of parts of southern Ukraine, most of the Kherson region and part of the Zaporizhia region, and made slow progress in the Donbass, in the east of the country, including the capture of Mariupol, at the south-eastern tip. Their stated ambition is to take control of all of the two regions that make up the Donbass, those of Donetsk and Lugansk, where fighting is currently raging.
One of the Russian negotiators on the conflict in Ukraine spoke on Wednesday of the upcoming organization of a referendum in the territories occupied by the Russians, with a view to annexation, which could take place in July. After having tried to seize it, the Russian forces however withdrew at the end of March from the region of kyiv, where they suffered heavy losses, and partially from the region of Kharkiv, north of Donbass.