Zelensky ‘does not know how much longer Ukraine will exist’ – Austria
The fate of Ukraine is looking increasingly uncertain as Russia launches a series of strikes across the country, President Volodymyr Zelensky has apparently told his Austrian counterpart, warning that the Eastern European nation may not be able to withstand the offensive by Moscow’s armed forces.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer shared details of his telephone conversation with Zelensky. According to Vienna’s leader, Zelensky told him that “I don’t know how much longer my country will exist.”
Nehammer added that Austria “is not indifferent to breaches of international law,” promising that it helps wherever it can.
The remarks come after the leaders of the newly recognized Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics formally requested military assistance from Moscow to combat what they claimed was a spike in “Ukrainian aggression.” Hours later, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the use of force for an offensive in the Donbass.
Within moments of the televised address, rounds of explosions hit sites across the country, including military installations and airfields. Blasts also struck around major cities, including the capital Kiev.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba issued a statement in which he asserted that Moscow “has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.” In the wake of the attack, Kiev declared martial law after a meeting between Zelensky and the country’s National Security and Defense Council.
Western officials had been warning for months that Moscow’s armed forces were building up at the Ukrainian border ahead of an invasion. Until Thursday morning, Russia had denied that it planned to attack, and insisted its intervention in the Donbass would be defensive.