MUKACHEVO, Ukraine – Government forces are “repelling” a Russian assault on the capital, Kiev, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday, although fighting continues. He called for tougher sanctions against Russia and for Ukraine’s admission to the European Union.
Addressing Ukrainians in a video message posted on social media, Zelensky said: “We resisted and successfully repelled enemy attacks.” He added: “Fighting continues in many cities and regions of our country. But we know what we stand for – [our] country, land, children’s future. It is exactly our army that controls Kiev and the main cities around the capital.
The embattled Ukrainian leader said “the enemy used all missiles, fighters, drones, artillery, armored vehicles, saboteurs and landing forces against us” and destroyed residential buildings with rockets and artillery.
He urged all Ukrainians to “stop and destroy the occupiers” if they can. “Any friends who want to join us in defense, come along,” he said. “We will give you weapons.”
He spoke after hours of nightly street fighting in the capital, including explosions and bursts of gunfire.
Zelensky called for Ukraine’s admission to the European Union, saying the Ukrainian people have the right to join and have “earned it”. He added: “It would be proof of our country’s key support.”
He also called for expelling Russia from the SWIFT system, which executes financial transactions between banks around the world. He said he hoped Germany and Hungary, which have been reluctant to back the move, would show “enough courage” to do so.
Addressing Russians in their language, Zelensky said the invasion had caused “thousands of deaths” and “hundreds of prisoners, who simply cannot understand why they were sent to Ukraine”.
He urged the Russians: “Just stop these people who are lying – lying to you, lying to us, lying to the whole world, to everyone. The sooner you tell your government that the war must be stopped immediately, the longer your people will live.”
Branigin reported from Washington.