Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for Western unity and more engagement in solving international crises, drawing a parallel between the unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas militants and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The only difference is that Israel has been attacked by a terrorist group while Ukraine was attacked by a terrorist state,” Zelenskiy told NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly in Copenhagen via video link on October 9.
“The intentions declared are different, but the essence is the same,” he added.
“This is not the time to withdraw from the international arena into internal disputes. This is not the time to isolate ourselves. This is not the time to remain silent or pretend that the terror on one continent does not affect global affairs,” the Ukrainian president said.
He was referring to a weekend attack by the militant group Hamas inside of Israel that killed some 250 people at a music festival, triggering a massive battle that has seen hundreds more killed both in the Jewish state and in the Gaza Strip.
Zelenskiy said later in his evening address that a war in the Middle East would be in Russia’s interests.
“Based on available information — very clear information — it is in Russia’s interests to inflame war in the Middle East to create a new source of pain and suffering that would weaken global unity, create divisions, and help Russia in undermining freedom in Europe,” Zelenskiy said.
“And we know how to counter this threat. We are preparing the appropriate steps. Most importantly, we defend the need for maximum world unity,” he said.
The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said earlier without providing evidence that Russian foreign intelligence was attempting to use the conflict in the Middle East to act against Ukraine.
Russia’s military intelligence (GRU) has given Hamas weapons seized during fighting in Ukraine with the aim of later accusing Kyiv of trafficking Western arms to terrorists, the Intelligence Directorate said on Telegram.
Earlier on October 9, the Ukrainian military claimed some success in its operations in the eastern and southern regions of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhya as regional officials reported that Russian strikes have continued to cause victims among civilians over the past day.
“Partial success in the areas of Klishchiyivka and Andriyivka [south of Bakhmut],” the General Staff said in its daily report early on October 9.
Since the start of their counteroffensive, Ukrainian forces have been engaged in offensive operations in the area of Bakhmut, a town captured earlier this year by Russian forces after months of some of the bloodiest fighting in the war.
The Ukrainian military also reported that it had successfully conducted attacks in the Melitopol direction of Zaporizhzhya in the south.
Ukrainian troops have been attempting to reach the city of Melitopol in an attempt to cut off a land bridge that links Russian-occupied territory in the east to the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014.
In total, Ukrainian forces fought 37 close-quarter battles over the past 24 hours along the entire front line, the military said. The claims could not be independently verified.
Meanwhile, Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of the regional military administration of the southern region of Kherson reported that one person was killed and 18 others, including two children, were wounded by Russian shelling in the region.
The previous day, a Russian attack left a dozen people wounded, including a 27-year-old woman and her nine-month-old baby, the regional governor said.
Russia has regularly shelled the Ukrainian-controlled part of Kherson since Moscow withdrew from the regional capital last year.
Meanwhile, UN and local investigators are searching for answers at the site of a Russian missile strike on the small Ukrainian village of Hroza in the Kharkiv region that killed more than 50 people earlier in the week.
The investigators have made a preliminary conclusion that nearly all those killed were civilians, according to a UN statement shared with the Associated Press.
“My initial conversations with local residents and survivors indicate that virtually all those killed were civilians and that the target itself, a busy village cafe and store, was also clearly civilian,” Danielle Bell, who led the team that visited Hroza on October 7, was cited as saying in the UN statement.
“What happened here is yet another tragic reminder of the deadly impact Russia’s invasion has had on Ukraine’s civilians,” Bell added.