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Zelenskyy visits NATO candidate Sweden for 1st time since full-scale war with Russia

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STOCKHOLM, Aug 19 (AP): Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is visiting 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 Swedish government officials in Harpsund, about 120 kilometres west of
Stockholm. He will also meet Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia at a palace in the area.
Sweden abandoned its longstanding policy of military nonalignment to support Ukraine with
weapons and other aid in the war against Russia. It 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 that Putin listened to reports from Valery Gerasimov, the commander in charge of
Moscow’s operations in Ukraine, and other top military brass at the headquarters of Russia’s
Southern Military District.
The exact timings of his visit were not confirmed, but state media published video footage that
appeared to be filmed at night, showing Gerasimov greeting Putin and leading him into a building.
The meeting itself was held behind closed doors.
Putin’s visit was the first since the Wagner mercenary group’s attempted mutiny in June, which saw
the group’s fighters briefly take control of Rostov-on-Don.
During June’s short-lived revolt, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin repeatedly denounced Gerasimov,
who serves as chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, and Defence 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
brass who he claimed were mismanaging the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine this week has claimed counteroffensive gains on the southeastern front, regaining control of
the village of Urozhaine in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on Wednesday.
The leader of the Russian battalion fighting to maintain control of Urozhaine called for “freezing 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.
Overnight into Saturday, Ukraine’s air force said, it shot down 15 out 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
wounded and dozens of buildings damaged by an attack.
In the northwestern Zhytomyr region, a Russian drone attack targeted an infrastructure facility and
caused a fire, but no casualties were reported, said Gov. Vitalii Bunechko.

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