Ukraine Says Its Forces Hit Shipyard in Russian-Occupied Crimea

Ukraine said its forces hit a shipyard in the port city of Kerch in Russian-occupied Crimea on Saturday.

“The evening of November 4, Armed Forces of Ukraine implemented successful strikes on marine and port infrastructure of the ‘Zalyv’ factory in the temporarily occupied city of Kerch,” the Department for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a Telegram post without giving further details.

On Saturday evening, the Russia-appointed governor of the annexed Crimean Peninsula said that air defense missiles were fired in Kerch and that fragments fell on a shipyard, though no further information was provided.

The reports could not be independently verified.

Kerch is at the western end of the bridge to the Krasnodar region on the Russian mainland. The bridge, a crucial conduit for food and military supplies, has been hit twice by significant attacks.

Russian attacks injure at least 14

Meanwhile, Russian attacks in Ukraine wounded at least 14 civilians in the past day, officials said Saturday, as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen returned to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Der Leyen’s Saturday visit took place days before the European Union is set to announce Ukraine’s progress in fulfilling necessary steps to begin membership negotiations with the bloc.

“I must say, you have made excellent progress. This is impressive to see,” von der Leyen said after the meeting with Zelenskyy. “We should never forget you are fighting an existential war and at the same time you are deeply reforming your country.”

Ukraine applied to become a member of the EU days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The membership process usually takes years, but Ukraine considers membership vital as it battles Russia’s invasion and wants to join as soon as possible.

The EU is set to announce on Wednesday whether Ukraine can begin accession talks with the group that would begin in December.

Zelenskyy denies stalemate

During a press conference with von der Leyen, Zelenskyy denied that the war had reached a stalemate and said Ukraine needed more help from its allies to strengthen its air defenses.

His comments came days after Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said in an article that the conflict was moving toward a new stage of static and attritional fighting, which could allow Moscow to rebuild its military power.

Zelenskyy did acknowledge that Ukraine, now in its 21st month in the war, had yet to achieve any major breakthrough in its counteroffensive, but he said Ukrainian troops has no choice but to keep fighting.

“Just like in the First World War,” Zaluzhnyi told The Economist, “we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate. There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.”

Moscow also rejected that characterization of the war.

“Russia is steadily carrying out the special military operation. All the goals that were set should be fulfilled,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

Ukraine denied Russia’s claim on Friday that its latest assault in the Donbas town of Avdiivka was successful, saying of the fighting there that Russia’s “large-scale military assault has floundered on strong Ukrainian defenses.”

U.S. and European officials have spoken to the Ukrainian government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might entail to end the war, NBC reported, quoting an unidentified senior U.S. official and one former U.S. official as saying.

NBC said the conversations had included very broad outlines of what Ukraine might need to give up to reach a deal with Russia.

Reuters was not able to independently verify those conversations.

Asked on Saturday about the NBC report, Zelenskyy reaffirmed his stance that this was not the time to negotiate with Russia, and he also denied that any Western leaders were pressuring him to do so.

“Everyone knows my attitude, which coincides with the attitude of Ukrainian society. … Today, no one is putting pressure [on me to negotiate], not one of the leaders of the EU or the United States,” he told a joint news conference with von der Leyen, in Kyiv.

“For us now to sit down with Russia and talk and give it something — this will not happen,” he said.

In his daily address on Friday, Zelenskyy said he is grateful to the United States for “the new and very powerful sanctions” on more than 220 Russian “entities that work on aggression.” (VOA)