Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia is targeting all of Europe with its aggression, and that stopping the invasion of Ukraine is essential for the security of all democracies.
In his late night address to Ukrainians on Saturday, Zelenskyy said that Russian aggression “was not intended to be limited to Ukraine alone” and the “entire European project is a target for Russia.”
“That is why it is not just the moral duty of all democracies, all the forces of Europe, to support Ukraine’s desire for peace,” he said. “This is, in fact, a strategy of defense for every civilized state.”
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His address came as civilians continued to flee eastern parts of the country before an expected onslaught and firefighters searched for survivors in a northern town no longer occupied by Russian forces. Several European leaders have made efforts to show solidarity with the battle-scarred nation. Zelenskyy thanked the leaders of Britain and Austria for their visits Saturday to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and pledges of further support.
He also thanked the European Commission president and Canada’s prime minister for a global fundraising event that brought in more than 10 billion euros ($11 billion) for Ukrainians who have fled their homes.
Zelenskyy repeated his call for a complete embargo on Russian oil and gas, which he called the sources of Russia’s “self-confidence and impunity.”
“Freedom does not have time to wait,” Zelenskyy said. “When tyranny begins its aggression against everything that keeps the peace in Europe, action must be taken immediately.”
More than six weeks after the invasion began, Russia has pulled its troops from the northern part of the country, around Kyiv, and refocused on the Donbas region in the east. Western military analysts said an arc of territory in eastern Ukraine was under Russian control, from Kharkiv — Ukraine’s second-largest city — in the north to Kherson in the south.
But counterattacks are threatening Russian control of Kherson, according to the Western assessments, and Ukrainian forces are repelling Russian assaults elsewhere in the Donbas, a largely Russian-speaking and industrial region.
Civilians were evacuating eastern Ukraine following a missile strike Friday that killed at least 52 people and wounded more than 100 at a train station where thousands clamored to leave.
Ukrainian authorities have called on civilians to get out ahead of an imminent, stepped-up offensive by Russian forces in the east. With trains not running out of Kramatorsk on Saturday, panicked residents boarded buses or looked for other ways to leave, fearing the kind of unrelenting assaults and occupations by Russian invaders that brought food shortages, demolished buildings and death to other cities.
“It was terrifying. The horror, the horror,” one resident told British broadcaster Sky, recalling Friday’s attack on the train station. “Heaven forbid, to live through this again. No, I don’t want to.”
Ukraine’s state railway company said residents of Kramatorsk and other parts of the Donbas could flee through other train stations. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 10 evacuation corridors were planned for Saturday.
Zelenskyy called the train station attack the latest example of war crimes by Russian forces and said it should motivate the West to do more to help his country defend itself.
Russia denied responsibility and accused Ukraine’s military of firing on the station to turn blame for civilian casualties on Moscow. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman detailed the missile’s trajectory and Ukrainian troop positions to bolster the argument.
Major Gen. Igor Konashenkov alleged Ukraine’s security services were preparing a “cynical staged” media operation in Irpin, another town near Kyiv, intended to attribute civilian casualties to Russian forces — falsely, he said — and to stage the slaying of a fake Russian intelligence team that intended to kill witnesses. The claims could not be independently verified.
Western experts and Ukrainian authorities insisted that Russia attacked the station. Remnants of the rocket had the words “For the children” in Russian painted on it. The phrasing seemed to suggest the missile was sent to avenge the loss or subjugation of children, although its exact meaning remained unclear.
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