Ukraine's Zelensky appeals directly to Russian citizens for peace after he was met with 'silence' when he tried to call Putin
UkrainePresident Volodymyr Zelensky appealed for peace amid fears of an imminent Russian invasion.
- The leader said he tried to call Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday but the Kremlin was silent.
In a somber early-morning speech from Kyiv, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed directly to the Russian people, pleading for peace amid rising fears of an imminent invasion.
"The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace," Zelensky said via video address, according to the Associated Press. "But if we come under attack that threaten our freedom and lives of our people we will fight back."
The Ukrainian president began by addressing his own people with an update on the national state of emergency, which lawmakers imposed Wednesday, two days after Putin recognized the independence of two Kremlin-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, the self-described "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk.
But in a notable follow-up, Zelensky next turned his attention to the Russian people, addressing them in their own language and insisting that Ukraine has no issue with
The Ukrainian leader acknowledged that his words were unlikely to be heard by Russian citizens, whose access to non-state-controlled media is strictly controlled. Still, he said, they should "know the truth."
"And the truth is that this needs to stop before it's too late," he said.
Zelensky said Putin had approved a military incursion into Ukraine, warning that "the trigger" could appear at any minute and begin "a great war on the European continent."
"They're telling you that this flame will liberate the people of Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people are free," Zelensky said. "Ukraine on your TV
He rejected Russian accusations that Ukranians are neo-Nazis who hate Russian culture, citing his own Jewish background.
"You are being told we are Nazis. How can a nation that gave 8 million lives to combat Nazism support it? How can I be a Nazi?" Zelensky said. "Tell my grandpa, who went through the whole war in the infantry of the Soviet Army and died as a colonel in independent Ukraine."
Zelensky also rejected Russian claims that Ukraine is rightfully a part of Russia.
"Neighbors always enrich one another culturally, but that does not make them one, does not dissolve us in you," he said. "We are different. But it is not a reason to be enemies."
Zelensky said he tried to call Russian President Vladimir Putin late Wednesday but was met with "silence" from the Kremlin.
"If the leadership of Russia doesn't want to sit down at the table with us for the sake of peace, maybe they will sit down at the table with you," Zelensky said, apparently addressing the Russian people. "Do Russians want war? I would like to answer that question, but the answer depends only on you."
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