Zelensky: Russian offensive in Donbas could ‘make the region uninhabited’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a presidential address given Thursday that violence by Russian troops in the Donbas region of Ukraine could eventually “make the region uninhabited.”

“The current offensive of the occupiers in Donbas can make the region uninhabited. They want to burn Popasna, Bakhmut, Lyman, Lysychansk and Severodonetsk to ashes. Like Volnovakha, like Mariupol,” Zelensky warned.

He added: “All this, including the deportation of our people and the mass killings of civilians, is an obvious policy of genocide pursued by Russia.”

In an address on Tuesday, Zelensky also addressed the “situation in Donbas,” saying it is “extremely difficult” and lamenting the loss of life caused by the Russian army.

Zelensky continued Thursday to discuss recent developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine, including a new instance of shelling in Kharkiv.

“At the moment, the list of the dead includes nine people. 19 wounded. All civilians. A child (five months) and a father were killed. The mother is in grave condition. Among the wounded in Kharkiv is also a nine-year-old girl,” Zelensky said.

He also mentioned “Missile strikes again in the Sumy region, in Donbas again. Significant intensification of the occupiers’ artillery in the Zaporizhzhia region again. Again, their efforts to burrow into the ground in the south.”

While Russia continues its onslaught against Ukraine, officials in Ukraine and the U.S. report that the Kremlin is losing significant numbers of troops and supplies.

According to the U.S. military, Russia has lost almost 1,000 tanks, “well over” 350 artillery pieces, almost three dozen fighter bomber fixed wing aircraft and more than 50 helicopters.

Ukraine estimates that almost 30,000 Russian soldiers have died since Russia’s invasion in late Feb.

Zelensky used his speech to urge Western allies to provide Ukraine with support, saying that if “the strong of the world had not played with Russia, but really pressed to end the war” the violence could have been stopped.

“Look at the number of weeks the world has not dared to block the Russian banking system – all banks without exception, to deprive the aggressor of the opportunity to finance not only the war against us, but also the policy of creating splits and crises around the world,” Zelensky said.

He continued: “Look at how long we have been struggling to provide Ukraine with all the weapons it needs to change the nature of hostilities and start moving faster and more confidently to the expulsion of the occupiers. All weapons, including MLRS. The systems that are really needed to stop this aggression.”

Zelensky responded Wednesday to a remark made by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger suggesting that Ukraine compromise with Russia by returning to the “status quo ante” and ceding some disputed land to the Kremlin.

“When Ukraine says that it will fight until it regains all its territories, it means only one thing: that Ukraine will fight until it regains all its territories. This is about independence and sovereignty,” said Zelensky.

During his speech Thursday, Zelensky echoed that message with a call for Western politicians to get behind him in his efforts to complete defeat Russia.

“Pressure on Russia is literally a matter of saving lives. And every day of delay, weakness, various disputes or proposals to ‘appease’ the aggressor at the expense of the victim is new killed Ukrainians,” Zelensky emphasized.

He concluded: “Ukraine will always be an independent state and will not be broken. The only question is what price our people will have to pay for their freedom, and Russia — for this senseless war against us.”

Tags Volodymyr Zelensky

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