Zelensky refuses to give up any land in east Ukraine and says he will ‘ensure defence’

Zelensky refuses to give up any land in east Ukraine and says he will ‘ensure defence’

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that Russian forces are carrying out ‘torture and kidnappings’ – and called on Western allies to reinforce Ukraine’s weapons arsenal.

In a nine-minute video address shared on Facebook tonight, Zelensky said southern Ukraine had been ravaged by Russian torture squads.
He said: ‘Torture chambers are built there. They abduct representatives of local governments and anyone deemed visible to local communities.’

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Zelenskyy said humanitarian aid has been stolen, creating famine. In occupied parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, he said, the Russians are creating separatist states and introducing Russian currency, the ruble.

Intensified Russian shelling of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, has killed 18 people and wounded 106 in the last four days alone, Zelenskyy said.

This is nothing but deliberate terror. Mortars, artillery against ordinary residential neighborhoods, against ordinary civilians,’ he said.

On an offensive in the east, Zelensky added: ‘We are doing everything to ensure defense. We are in constant contact with partners. We are grateful to those who really help with everything they can.

‘But those who have the weapons and ammunition we need and delay their provision must know that the fate of this battle also depends on them. The fate of people who can be saved.

Earlier, in a CNN interview, he said it was vital Ukraine held Donbas, or Russia could press on to take Kyiv. He said: ‘This is why it is very important for us to not allow them, to stand our ground, because this battle … it can influence the course of the whole war.’

Zelensky again called for increased sanctions against Russia, including its entire banking sector and oil industry. ‘Everyone in Europe and America already sees Russia openly using energy to destabilize Western societies,’ Zelenskyy said. ‘All of this requires greater speed from Western countries in preparing a new, powerful package of sanctions.’

His words come as the last defenders of Mariupol ignored Russia’s ‘surrender or die’ warning and vowed to fight until the end.

The Ukrainian MP for Odesa, Oleksiy Goncharenko, told BBC News: ‘I spoke with them [the last fighters] yesterday, and I know that they’re going to fight until the end.’

Russia gave Ukrainian soldiers an ultimatum to ‘surrender or die’, urging them to lay down their arms by 6:00 am Moscow time (0300 GMT) and to evacuate before 1:00pm, on Sunday after the Russian Defence Ministry claimed their troops had cleared the urban area of the city – with only a small unit of Ukrainian fighters remaining in the giant Azovstal steelworks in the south-eastern port. The fighters ignored the demand.

Earlier on Sunday Zelensky told CNN he hopes Biden will visit Kyiv to see the war for himself
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Earlier on Sunday Zelensky told CNN he hopes Biden will visit Kyiv to see the war for himself

Earlier on Sunday Zelensky had called for US President Joe Biden to visit his country and said he believes the commander-in-chief will make the trip.

The wartime leader also said his government had ‘substantial evidence’ that Russia’s troops are committing genocide in Ukraine, as more and more western leaders accuse autocrat leader Putin of war crimes.

Zelensky was asked by CNN State of the Union host Jake Tapper whether there are ‘any plans’ for Biden to come see the situation for himself.

‘I think he will,’ the Ukrainian president answered.

He added on CNN of Biden’s potential visit: ‘It’s his decision of course, and about the safety situation.’

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