Photo: Reuters / copyright
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Thursday that his country had decided to sever diplomatic relations with Russia.
“Ukraine is defending itself and will not give up its freedom, whatever Moscow thinks. For Ukrainians, independence and the right to live on their own land according to their will is the highest value,” Zelensky told a news conference.
The announcement came hours after his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, launched a “special military operation” in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where the two pro-Russian rebel territories of Ukraine are located. Donetsk and Luhansk.
Zelensky also stated that the Ukrainian government will lift the sanctions on “all citizens of Ukraine” willing to defend their country “with arms in hand”, joining the Territorial Defense Units.
In this way, he offered weapons to “anyone who wants to defend the country.” The message was reiterated through his Twitter account.
We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 24, 2022
The Ukrainian president also noted that “Russia treacherously attacked our state in the morning, like Nazi Germany did in the years of World War II”.
“To this day, our countries are on different sides of world history. Russia has embarked on the path of evil, but Ukraine fights back,” she added.
“It could be the start of a great war on the European continent”
Before the attacks began, on Thursday morning, the Ukrainian president had made another speech where, in addition to addressing his people, he sent a message to the Russians in their own language.
Zelensky first spoke in Ukrainian and warned that a Russian invasion “may be the start of a great war on the European continent.”
He said he had unsuccessfully sought talks with the Russian president and that Moscow has almost 200,000 soldiers and thousands of combat vehicles on the border between the two countries.
“I made a phone call to the president of the Russian Federation. Result: silence. Silence should be in the DonbasZelensky exposed.
But by changing the language to Russian, the president asked the population of the neighboring country to reject an attack and pointed out that they are lying about Ukraine.
They say that the flame [de la guerra] it will free the people of Ukraine, but the Ukrainians are free,” he said, according to the BBC’s Eastern Europe correspondent Sarah Rainsford.
“Who can stop [la guerra]? the gentity. And it isPeople are among you, I’m sure.”he emphasized.
The Ukrainian leader stressed that his country is ready for a Russian attack and warned: “We do not need any war, not cold, not hot, not hybrid. But if the troops attack us, if they try to take our country – our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children – we will defend ourselves.”
“If they attack us, they will see our faces, not our backs,” the Ukrainian president said.
“They tell you that we hate Russian culture. How can you hate the culture? Or any culture. Neighbors are always culturally enriched (…). We’re different, pbut this is not a reason to be enemiesZelensky continued.
“They tell you that we are Nazis, but how can a people who lost more than eight million lives because of the victory of Nazism support Nazism? How can I be a Nazi? Tell that to my grandfather, who spent the entire war in the infantry of the Soviet Army and died as a colonel in the Ukraine,” he added.
- 5 keys to understand the latest escalation of tension between Russia and Ukraine
Continuing in Russian, Zelensky stated that Ukrainians remember their past, but “they want to determine and build their own history.”
“Qthey want hedo you russians a war? I would very much like to answer this question. But the answer depends only on you, citizens of the Russian Federation.”he concluded.
Minutes after Zelensky’s intervention, Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in the Donbas region, in eastern Ukraine, where the two rebel territories of Donetsk and Luhansk are located, self-proclaimed republics and which Putin recognized on Monday as independent.
As Putin made the announcement, the United Nations Security Council implored him to stop any military action.
A few minutes later, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal tweeted: “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under attack. This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and win.”
Now you can receive notifications from BBC World. Download our app and activate it so you don’t miss our best content.