Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last night claimed the morale of Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces is ‘constantly deteriorating’ in a powerful address, and added that his forces have so-far killed 9,000 invaders.
The leader of the besieged nation also said that his country had thwarted Russia’s ‘sneaky’ plans, saying he was proud of the ‘heroic’ resistance to Moscow’s shocking invasion.
‘We are a nation that broke the enemy’s plans in a week. Plans written for years: sneaky, full of hatred for our country, our people,’ Zelensky said in a video posted across multiple social media channels.
The president said he ‘sincerely admired the heroic residents’ of cities who have resisted the advance of Russian forces. He added that around 9,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the invasion began, a claim disputed by Moscow who released contesting figures for the first time earlier on Wednesday.
‘Our military, our border guards, our territorial defence, even ordinary farmers capture the Russian military every day,’ he said in the video, similar to several others he has previously recorded during the war.
‘All the captives say only one thing: they do not know why they are here. Despite the fact that there are dozens of times more than them, the morale of the enemy is constantly deteriorating.’
Zelensky, who has drawn praise from Ukrainians and the international community alike for his leadership since the invasion began, also accused Russian troops of looting out of desperation for food and supplies.
He said Ukrainian civilians had driven Putin’s soldiers out of grocery stores as they searched for food. ‘These are not warriors of the superpower, these are confused children who were used,’ he said.
‘They will not have peace here, they will not have food here, they will not have a single quiet moment here,’ he warned. ‘The occupiers will receive only one thing from Ukraine – a rebuff, a worth rebuff. They will remember that we do not give up.’
Zelensky’s comments was posted before Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and many other cities around the country came under heavy fire from Putin’s forces. Videos in Kyiv showed at least two huge explosions light up the night sky at around 2am local time, while Kherson city in the south was reportedly brought under Russia’s complete control.
Meanwhile, the command of Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces warned that it would no longer take Russian artillerymen as prisoner of war in response to their ‘brutal shelling’ of cities. ‘Each and every gun crew… will be slaughtered like pigs,’ a statement on Wednesday evening said.
The United Nations Refugee Agency reported Thursday morning that over 1 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the war, which has so far claimed thousands of lives in its first week. Pictures and videos from Kyiv have shown thousands crowding railways stations in a desperate bid to get a ride out of the city.
Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said Wednesday more than 2,000 civilians have died, though it was impossible to verify that claim. There are fears that the number could be higher.
Earlier on Wednesday, a video of a Russian soldier breaking down in tears as he spoke to his mother on the phone after surrendering to Ukrainians went viral.
The footage showed a young fighter from Putin’s forces being comforted by a group of women after throwing down his weapon. One of the women tells him ‘everything his OK’ while patting him on the back.
He is then seen drinking tea and eating a pasty as another woman offers him a phone. The young prisoner of war blows kisses as his mother answers, and bursts into tears as soon as he sees her. One of the other women is heard speaking to her down the phone, saying: ‘Natasha, God be with you. We will call you later. He is alive and healthy.’
A male voice off camera is heard saying in Ukrainian: ‘These young men, it’s not their fault. They don’t know why they are here. They are using old maps, they are lost.’
The emotional clip shared on Twitter shows local Ukrainians welcoming the soldier with food after his reported surrender.
It was captioned: ‘Russian soldiers, surrender, Ukrainian people will feed you, just surrender.’
The video has since gone viral in both Ukraine and Russia, with people praising the compassion shown by the Ukrainian women towards the man who has been ordered to invade their country.
Others have noted how young the man is – like many Russian soldiers that have been captured by Ukraine’s forces.
The footage emerged as the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence said Russian mothers could could come to Kyiv and collect their sons who had been taken prisoner.
In a verified post on social media, officials claimed mothers could make the arduous journey to the Ukrainian capital from Russia if they had found that their child was in captivity.
‘It was decided to give the captured Russian soldiers to their mothers if they come to Ukraine, to Kyiv for them,’ it read.
The ministry provide an email address and phone numbers that could be used to find out if a soldier was ‘in captivity or had died’.
If they wanted to collect the child they would have to get to Kaliningrad or Minsk in Belarus before taking a taxi to the Polish border where they could then be escorted to a handover point.
An official wrote: ‘We Ukrainians, unlike Putin’s fascists, do not fight mothers and their captive children. We are waiting for you in Kyiv!’
Reports suggest that many tired and demoralised Russian forces are either fleeing battle or surrendering to Ukraine.
It is believed Putin’s forces are starting to run out of food and fuel, with some resorting to looting, while others are even reportedly sabotaging their own military equipment in a bid to get out of the war.
Intercepted radio messages indicate troops are disobeying orders from Moscow to shell Ukrainian towns, and complaining about running out of food and fuel.
The video came after other footage showed Russian prisoners of war weeping and claiming they had no idea they were being sent into a warzone rather than to act as peacekeepers.
Captured men said they had no idea they were being sent to invade Ukraine and were used like ‘cannon fodder’ by commanders who threw them into battle against ‘peaceful people defending their territory’ after Vladimir Putin’s forces took heavy losses in the opening days of the conflict.
‘This is not our war. Mothers and wives, collect your husbands. There is no need to be here,’ an injured soldier sat in front of a Ukrainian flag was filmed saying. Other footage showed handcuffed Russian prisoner crying, while saying: ‘They don’t even pick up the corpses, there are no funerals’.
Ukraine on Wednesday invited the worried mothers of Russian troops captured on the battlefield to come and collect their sons, in Kyiv’s latest apparent attempt to embarrass Moscow after opening a telephone hotline for Russian parents to find out if their sons are among the dead or captured.
Ukraine says Russia has lost 5,840 soldiers in the opening days of the conflict – some of its fastest losses since the Second World War, if the figure proves accurate – with Putin’s men suffering a series of embarrassing defeats as they tried to pull off a quick victory but instead met with stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces.
Russia’s advance has since slowed to a crawl as commanders regroup, change strategy, and renew their assault in what is now expected to become an increasingly bloody war of resources with Kyiv’s men facing overwhelming odds. The Ministry of Defence said Russia had renewed the fight on ‘all fronts’ Wednesday and ‘suffered losses’… (Read more)