Zelensky: Russian aggression is not limited to Ukraine

Addressing the “free people of a brave country”, Zelensky said in a late-night video message to Ukrainians that Russia’s war goal was “not intended to be confined to Ukraine alone” and that “the whole European project is a goal.”

“So it is not just the moral responsibility of all democracies, of all European powers, to support Ukraine’s desire for peace,” he said.

His address came as civilians fled the eastern part of the country before an expected attack, and emergency workers searched for survivors in cities north of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, which are no longer occupied by Russian forces.

Russia has withdrawn its troops from the north of the country and re-focused on the eastern Donbass region, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years and controlled some territories before the war, now in its 46th day.

Western military analysts say an arcade territory in eastern Ukraine was under attack, from Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city – to Kherson in the north. A newly released Maxar Technologies satellite image collected on Friday shows an 8-mile (13-kilometer) military vehicle convoy heading south through the town of Veliki Burluk towards Donbass.

However, Western assessments have shown growing confidence in the ability of Ukraine’s defenders to repel Russian aggression, portraying Russian troops as victims of low morale and increasing casualties.

Britain’s defense ministry said on Sunday that the Russian military wanted to respond to “increasing losses” by increasing the number of troops, including those who had been discharged from military service since 2012.

In an update on Twitter, the ministry added that the Russian military’s efforts to “create more combat forces” included attempts to recruit troops from Trans-Nister, an isolated area on Moldova’s border with Ukraine.

Russia-backed separatists in eastern Moldova took up arms in 1992 to establish Trans-Nister, which is not internationally recognized and where Russia maintains about 1,500 troops.

Several European leaders have tried to show solidarity with war-torn Ukraine. In his video address, Zelensky thanked the leaders of Britain and Austria for their visit to Kyiv on Saturday and promised further support.

He thanked the President of the European Commission and the Prime Minister of Canada for organizing a global fundraising event that brought in more than 10 billion euros ($ 11 billion) for the millions of Ukrainians who fled their homes.

Zelensky reiterated his call for a complete ban on Russian oil and gas, which he called Russia’s “source of confidence and impunity.” Some European countries rely heavily on imported Russian power.

“There is no time to wait for independence,” Zelensky said. “When dictatorships start aggression against everything that maintains peace in Europe, immediate action must be taken.”

In an interview with the Associated Press at his heavily guarded presidential office complex, Zelensky said Russia had “tortured” Ukraine even though he was committed to negotiating a diplomatic end to the war.

He also acknowledged that peace is unlikely to come soon. So far, the talks have not included Russian President Vladimir Putin or other top officials.

“We have to fight, but we have to fight for our lives. When there is nothing and no people, you cannot fight for the dust. That is why it is important to end this war, “said the President.

Ukrainian authorities have accused Russian forces of committing war crimes against thousands of civilians during the attack, including a hospital airstrike, a missile attack that killed 52 people at a train station on Friday and firing near residents of northern cities.

Graphic evidence of civilian casualties emerged after Russian forces withdrew from Bucha, and firefighters were searching buildings in Borodianka, another settlement outside Kiev. Russia denies involvement in the war and falsely claims that the scene was staged in Bucharest.

Ukrainian authorities say they expect to see more genocide once they arrive in the southern port city of Mariupol, which is also in Donbass and has been the victim of months of blockades and fierce fighting. The location of the city in the Azov Sea is important for the construction of a land bridge over the Crimean peninsula, which Russia occupied from Ukraine eight years ago.

Ukrainian officials have been urging Western powers to send more weapons almost daily and to impose more sanctions on Moscow, including the exclusion of Russian banks from the global financial system and the European Union’s full embargo on Russian gas and oil.

During his visit on Saturday, Austrian Chancellor Carl Nehamar said he expected more EU sanctions against Russia, but defended his country’s opposition to cutting off Russian gas supplies.

A package of sanctions imposed this week “will not end,” the chancellor said, adding that “as long as people are dying, every approval is still insufficient.” Austria is militarily neutral and not a member of NATO.

A day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit, the United Kingdom has pledged an additional 100 100 million ($ 130 million) in high-grade military equipment. Johnson confirmed further financial assistance, with the World Bank guaranteeing an additional $ 500 million in loans to Ukraine, bringing Britain’s total loan guarantee up to $ 1 billion.

In an interview with the AP, Zelensky noted the increased support but expressed frustration when asked if Ukraine had received weapons and equipment from the West enough to change the outcome of the war.

“Not yet,” he said, switching to English to emphasize. “Of course that’s not enough.”

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Anna reports from Buchara, Ukraine. Associated Press journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow the War AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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