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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an address to his country on Saturday that more than 2,600 cities and towns remain under Russian occupation as the war carries on.
Zelensky said Ukrainian forces have liberated more than 1,000 cities and towns, but they still need to free 2,610. He said most of those locations impacted by the conflict need to be reconstructed, and hundreds of them were “completely destroyed by the Russian army.”
“Of course, we have already begun to restore normal life in liberated communities and territories on our own,” Zelensky said. “But implementing such a large-scale project across the country, providing new safety standards and a new quality of life is possible only by attracting international capabilities.”
He said a conference that Ukraine will jointly host with Switzerland on Monday and Tuesday will be “an important step” to rebuilding Ukraine.
The conference in Lugano, Switzerland, was originally planned as the 5th annual Ukraine Reform Conference, an event where Ukraine typically discusses its recent political reforms and goals. But after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Ukraine and Switzerland decided to reorganize the conference to focus on the current situation.
The conference will allow Ukraine to share its recovery plan with international allies and “develop the best possible response to the enormous challenges lying ahead,” according to the conference’s website.
“It is necessary not only to restore everything that the occupiers destroyed, but also to create a new basis for our life, for Ukraine – safe, modern, convenient, barrier-free,” Zelensky said.
He urged Ukrainians in areas against sinking into a feeling of “relaxation” as the war continues and added that people should continue to volunteer to help others and spread the truth of what is happening in the war with the rest of the world.
“The main thing, no matter how difficult it is for us today, we must remember that there will be tomorrow,” he said. “And tomorrow should bring maximum benefit to Ukraine – everyone should do absolutely everything possible for this.”
Multiple new outlets reported that Zelensky this week told leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7), made up of the world’s largest economies, that he hopes the war will conclude by the end of the year.
President Biden said on Thursday that he is willing to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” for the country to win the war. The following day, the Pentagon announced $820 million in additional security assistance for Ukraine.