Russian troops are “slowly but noticeably” moving out of the north of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Friday.
“The occupiers are withdrawing forces in the north of our country. The withdrawal is slow but noticeable. Somewhere they are expelled with battles. Somewhere they leave positions on their own,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky also urged Ukrainians to remain cautious in the north as troops withdraw.
“We are moving forward. Moving carefully. And everyone who returns to this area must also be very careful. It is still impossible to return to normal life as it was. Even in the areas we return after the fighting. You will have to wait. Wait for our land to be cleared. Wait until you can be assured that new shelling is impossible,” he said.
In eastern Ukraine, Zelensky said preparations are underway for more Russian strikes in the Donbas region and the country's second-largest city, Kharkiv.
“In the east of our country, the situation remains extremely difficult. The Russian militaries are being accumulated in Donbas, in the Kharkiv direction. They are preparing for new powerful blows. We are preparing for even more active defense,” Zelensky said.
"Humanitarian catastrophe": Zelensky added that 6,266 people were rescued through evacuation corridors in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia on Friday.
Zelensky also commented on a conversation he had with French President Emmanuel Macron, in which they discussed the humanitarian situation in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol.
“Europe has no right to react in silence to what is happening in our Mariupol. The whole world must react to this humanitarian catastrophe,” Zelensky said.