Ukrainian president says he called Kremlin
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to Russian citizens against a war in Donbass in a televised speech shortly after midnight on Thursday. Zelensky claimed he had tried calling Russian President Vladimir Putin but received no response.
“Today I initiated a call with the president of the Russian Federation. The result was silence. But silence ought to be in the Donbass,” Zelensky said.
Starting his speech in Ukrainian but completing most of it in Russian, Zelensky insisted he was trying to get a message across to the ordinary citizens of Russia. He claimed that Ukraine is not, was not, and never will be a threat to Russians, and only wants the right to self-determination and security for itself.
“We don’t need war, whether cold or hot or hybrid. But if an army comes at us, if they try to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves,” he said.
On Wednesday, Zelensky called up 36,000 reservists to the armed forces and declared a 30-day state of emergency in all of Ukraine, starting on February 24. The emergency did not extend to the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk under Ukrainian military control, which have been under a special regime since 2014.
Ukraine has also requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council after the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) formally invoked their treaties with Moscow to request Russian military assistance against “aggression by the Kiev regime.” Their leaders said that the Ukrainian military has stepped up artillery bombardment and attacks on civilian infrastructure. Kiev has been denying it had ordered an offensive, accusing the DPR and LPR of staging “false flag” attacks.
Moscow says it has recognized the breakaway republics’ independence due to the imminent threat of a full-blown attack, claiming it was the only option left after Kiev had “killed” the Minsk ceasefire agreements. Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, told the General Assembly on Wednesday that once Russian peacekeepers are deployed to the two republics, they will not be lenient with violators of the ceasefire.