Hopefully refugees will soon be able to return to Ukraine – Zelensky
The president of Ukraine thanked Poland and other eastern European nations for their support of his country during the Russian offensive, including their acceptance of Ukrainian refugees into their territories. Volodymyr Zelensky said he hoped Ukrainian citizens would soon be able to return home.
Speaking in a televised address on Saturday, he said “I am certain that soon we will be able to tell our people: come home. Come home from Poland, from Romania, Slovakia and all other friendly nations. Return home, since there is no more threat.”
The Ukrainian president extended his special thanks to Poland for supporting his country, including by taking in people during the crisis.“Nobody is asking [refugees from Ukraine] about their nationality, their faith, how much money they have. In fact, we no longer have a border with Poland,” he said.
“Our friend Poland, since we are together on the side of the good.”
Zelensky said foreign sponsors like the World Bank have already pledged tens of billions of dollars for an eventual Ukrainian reconstruction effort, and that more money would come.
He also criticized NATO nations for refusing to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a step that would require allies to attack Russian warplanes over the country, potentially leading to a major war in Europe.“Seventy-four percent of Americans support a no-fly zone. Seventy-four! An absolute majority! What else do you need to make a decision?,” he demanded.
The EU estimates that up to four million people may be displaced west from Ukraine due to the ongoing fighting. So far more than half of 1.2 million refugees have fled to Poland, according to UN, while others sought shelter in Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, and Romania, among other places. Zelensky’s assessment of an all-welcoming attitude contradicts reports from the ground, which said people of color had faced discrimination in Poland.
Zelensky also confirmed Russian statements that the two nations had reached a limited ceasefire agreement for the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha, to allow civilians out and humanitarian aid in. The president said that Ukrainians who can carry arms should remain in the cities to defend them.
Russia attacked Ukraine last week, claiming that NATO’s informal eastward expansion into the country posed a threat to Russian national security and crossed a red line drawn by Moscow. Kiev and its supporters in the West branded the move an act of unprovoked aggression. Western nations have imposed harsh economic sanctions against Russia aimed at crippling its national economy.