Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy flatly refused the US to scoop the leader up and out of harm’s way as Russian forces closed in on Kyiv. This proposal would attract a vast majority of political figures around the globe. But not this one.
“The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelenskyy said in response to the overture.
The Ukrainian president took to the streets Friday after rumors circulated online of his and his Administration’s abdication of the capital, doubtless a misinformation campaign from the invading Russians to dishearten the Ukraine resistance. With the city government district buildings in the background to verify their location, Zelenskyy delivered a message of reassurance to the country’s besieged citizens.
“We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine.”
Nearly 3 million are under attack and outnumbered by more vital Russian forces. Ballistic missiles continue to strike civilian targets, including residential buildings, but stiff resistance has so far thwarted Russian advances into the capital. The UK Ministry of Defense says Russian invaders absorb casualties, and Ukrainian forces have taken many prisoners.
Ukrainian forces, arm-in-arm with civilian volunteers, were able to turn back an assault on Kyiv by the Russian military on Saturday. The example shown by Zelenskyy has rallied his people, and it also appears to have encouraged other nations to support their fellow citizens.
Even as Russian President Vladimir Putin made waves with his order to make Moscow’s nuclear arsenal ready for launch, the European Union announced it is closing airspace to Russian airlines and will fund the purchase of military hardware for Ukrainian resistance, the first time the defensive alliance has financed military weapons for a country under attack.
Zelenskyy’s defiance has spread even to the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, one of the Kremlin’s closest allies. Not only did the Kazakh government deny Putin’s request to send troops to assist in their attack on Ukraine, but it will not recognize the breakaway regions that Russia insists are now independent countries.
Even Germany, which has close economic ties to Russia and is primarily dependent on its energy exports, is sending 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles to support the Ukrainian defenders. Zelenskyy made a point to thank Germany for the military aid while calling on all “friends” of his country to unite in their defense, saying, “please come over. We will give you weapons.”
US experts estimate roughly half of the 190,000 Russian troops amassed around the Ukraine border before the invasion are now inside the country.