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Round-up: Zelensky in freed city, while Scholz says Putin remains undaunted

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Volodymyr Zelensky in IzyumImage source, EPA

As Ukraine continued to wage its counter-offensive against Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky went to the newly recaptured north-eastern city of Izyum on Wednesday.

During his visit to the city, a key logistics hub, Mr Zelensky thanked troops and oversaw a flag-raising ceremony.

He pledged that the Ukrainian flag would return to every city and village in the country.

Media caption,

Watch: Zelensky visits retaken Ukrainian city of Izyum

In recent days, Ukraine’s army has reclaimed swathes of occupied territory, forcing Russian troops to retreat.

Ukrainian officials say they are targeting towns in the eastern Donbas region after making a series of gains.

Putin does not see Ukraine war as mistake – Scholz

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

German chancellor Olaf Scholz meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in February 2022

While Ukraine advanced on the ground, there were more signs that the Kremlin remained undaunted in pursuing its so-called “special military operation”.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he urged Vladimir Putin to withdraw troops and re-enter talks with Ukraine when the two leaders held a 90-minute phone call the previous day.

However, he said Mr Putin had “unfortunately” not changed his position on the invasion and apparently did not realise it was a mistake.

Mr Scholz emphasised the importance of continuing to talk to Mr Putin and said the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine would be the only way for “peace to have a chance in the region”.

Xi and Putin to discuss Ukraine war at meeting

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Mr Putin (left) and Mr Xi last met in person in Beijing in February

After hearing some home truths from the German chancellor, Mr Putin seems set to receive a more sympathetic ear from another world leader.

China’s Xi Jinping, who is making his first trip overseas since the start of the pandemic, is due to discuss the war in Ukraine and other “international and regional topics” at a meeting with the Russian president later this week, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

Mr Xi is seeking a historic third term, while Mr Putin’s relations with the West are at rock bottom over Ukraine.

Mr Xi made his first stop in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, where he landed in the capital, Nursultan, for the first leg of his three-day trip.

EU moves to cut peak electricity use by 5%

Image source, Reuters

Image caption,

Ursula von der Leyen was making her annual State of the Union speech

Before Russia invaded Ukraine, it accounted for 40% of the EU’s imported gas. That figure has since fallen to below 10%, after the EU imposed sweeping sanctions in response to the war.

On Wednesday, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament that gas and electricity prices had hit all-time highs after Russia’s invasion.

She also said windfall taxes should be imposed on energy firms to tackle high prices.

But plans for a cap on the price of natural gas, a key Russian export to the EU, were put on hold.

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