President Selenskyj wants to spend almost 30 billion euros to defend Ukraine against the Russian aggressor. Since the war began, Kremlin troops have destroyed 35,000 homes and killed thousands. The battles for the town of Bakhmut are particularly bloody.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, there are hardly any civilians left in the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. "Last year 70,000 people lived there. Now only a few civilians are left," Zelenskyy said on Facebook. He did not provide information on the number of civilians who remained in the city.
There is "no place" in the city that is "not covered in blood," Zelenskyy wrote, adding several photos showing the extent of the destruction in the city. According to AFP journalists who have been to Bakhmut several times in recent weeks, the already difficult living conditions are made even more difficult by the lack of access to water and electricity. Zelenskyy traveled to Bakhmut on December 20 - a day before his visit to Washington, where he presented the US Congress with a Ukrainian flag signed by soldiers fighting in Bakhmut.
Selenskyj described the reconstruction of Ukraine after the Russian war of aggression as the largest economic project in Europe. According to the media, during a speech in the parliament in Kyiv, Zelenskyy called on MPs to draw up laws that would attract entrepreneurs and investors. According to the presidential administration, Zelenskyy also held a video conference on the topic of reconstruction of the country with the head of the investment company Blackrock, Larry Fink.
It must also be possible to bring Ukrainians who have fled abroad back into the country, Selenskyj told the Rada at the end of the year. Ukraine has become a leader of the free world. You have helped the West to find itself again. "The West has stopped being afraid of Russia," said Zelenskyy. Russia will be held accountable for its war crimes.
The country is also making its defense industry one of the most advanced in the world, with the aim of restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity, he pledged. Zelenskyy had repeatedly said that he wanted to liberate the areas annexed by Russia, including the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Moscow had annexed in 2014.
More than 30 billion US dollars (around 28.2 billion euros) should be spent on the country's defense in the coming year, Zelenskyj said, according to the Kiev TV station Freedom. The president also announced the goal of releasing all Ukrainians from Russian captivity for the coming year. Since the start of the Russian war of aggression in February, 1,456 people have already returned home.