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Zelenskyy visits NATO candidate Sweden for the first time since full-scale war with Russia

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Sweden on Saturday — his first visit to the country since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, the Swedish government said.

It said Zelenskyy will meet with Swedish government officials in Harpsund, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Stockholm. He will also meet Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia in a palace nearby.

Sweden has abandoned its long-standing policy of military non-alignment to support Ukraine with arms and other aid in its war against Russia. It has also applied for NATO membership, but is still waiting to join the alliance.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited top military officials in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, near the Ukrainian border.

The Kremlin said Putin listened to reports from Valery Gerasimov, the commander in charge of Moscow’s operations in Ukraine, and other top military officials at the headquarters of Russia’s southern military district.

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The exact timing of his visit was not confirmed, but state media released video footage that appeared to have been filmed overnight, showing Gerasimov greeting Putin and ushering him into a building. The meeting itself took place behind closed doors.

Putin’s visit was the first since the mercenary group Wagner’s attempted mutiny in June, in which the group’s fighters briefly seized control of Rostov-on-Don.

During the short-lived June uprising, Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin repeatedly denounced Gerasimov, who serves as Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for denying supplies to his fighters in Ukraine.

Prigozhin claimed that the uprising was not aimed at Putin, but at removing Gerasimov and other top men he said were mismanaging the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine won a counter-offensive on the southeastern front this week and regained control of the village of Uroshaine in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on Wednesday.

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The leader of the Russian battalion fighting to maintain control of Urozhaine called for a “freezing of the front” on Thursday, claiming his troops “cannot win” against Ukraine.

“Can we bring down Ukraine militarily? Now and in the near future, no,” Alexander Khodakovsky said in a video posted to Telegram.

Last night on Saturday, the Ukrainian air force said it shot down 15 of 17 Russian drones targeting Ukraine’s northern, central and western regions.

The deputy governor of the western Khmelnytskyi region, Serhii Tiurin, said two people were injured and dozens of buildings damaged in an attack.

In the northwestern region of Zhytomyr, a Russian drone strike targeted an infrastructure facility and caused a fire, but there were no casualties, Governor Vitalii Bunechko said.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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