Dear international media. Today I will update you on the current situation and Ukraine’s fight to defend itself from Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against our country and its people.
What is happening now in Ukraine is a true people’s war.
As you already know, at 4 AM on February 24th the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine with all their might and from all directions. They made it under a direct order of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. In his video address he unloaded a number of false claims, including bizarre accusations of Ukraine in committing an alleged ‘genocide’ which have zero factual evidence. He also called for a ‘demilitarization’ and ‘denazification’ of Ukraine, which shows that he exists in a completely parallel reality. Today, Ukraine has already addressed the International Court of Justice in the Hague to hold Russia accountable for manipulating the very notion of genocide in an attempt to justify its military aggression. The notion of genocide is one of the sacred elements of the post - Second World War international order. Manipulating it is unacceptable. When we prove in the Hague that this pretext was a complete fake, we will prove that Russian aggression is unjustified and unprovoked. I am sure this day will come after we stop Putin.
The Russian full-scale attack in the early hours of February 24th started, as I already said, in multiple directions simultaneously: in the east in the occupied Donbas, from the South in the occupied Crimea and Black Sea, from the North-East and from the territory of Belarus. This included indiscriminate bombing of cities and towns with all types of rockets, cruise missiles, aviation, as well as crossing of ground forces into our territory. Multiple objects of critical infrastructure were damaged. Civilians have been killed and wounded in indiscriminate shelling since the first hours of the military aggression. Kyiv was bombed heavily, which was the worst moment for Ukraine’s capital since 1941 when it was bombed by Nazi Germany. And it’s remarkable, I have to say, how President Putin’s actions remind and follow the pattern of Adolf Hitler.
I want to underline that since the very beginning the territory of Belarus was used for the aggression. Right now, Ukrainian territory is being shelled not only from Russia, but also from the territory of Belarus and Oleksandr Lukashenko may at any moment give an order to send in Belarussian army alongside the Russian army to the territory of Ukraine to kill Ukrainian men, women, elderly and children. This is the risk, the threat, that we should take into account.
For the fourth consecutive day the Ukrainian Armed Forces, National Guard, National Police, units of Territorial Defense and the entire Defence Forces of Ukraine resist and fight back Russian invaders. Ukraine’s ability to resist has been extremely high and unexpectedly high for Putin.
I want to stress that in the first four days of Russia’s invasion Russia has not achieved a single strategic goal. President Putin had planned to conduct a blitzkrieg operation to force Ukraine on its knees, break us down, make us retreat and capture our capital Kyiv. None of this has happened. We are bleeding, but we are inflicting disastrous losses on the enemy. According to the newest data by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, the overall Russian losses in these 3,5 days are approximately at the following numbers. Ukraine downed 46 Russian military aircrafts, 26 helicopters, we destroyed 146 tanks, 706 armored vehicles, 49 cannons, one missile complex BUK - the same one that was used to shoot down the MH17 flight in 2014, when Russia killed hundreds of innocent lives. We also destroyed 30 vehicles, 60 cisterns, two drones and two boats. Russian losses of troops are roughly 4300 killed in action and wounded in action. Hundreds of Russian soldiers became prisoners of war. This data is preliminary, because battles are ongoing and the exact numbers fluctuate.
At this moment heavy fighting continues. The enemy was able to move forward in the South of Ukraine, in the North-East and in the North, including in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. Movements of Russian heavy armored vehicles there have disturbed the radioactive soil which has already led to an increase of radiation levels. Russians maintain control over the Confinement and the station itself, prohibiting due rotation of personnel. This is a clear violation of the international nuclear safety rules.
But even with these local advances and with such catastrophic losses, Putin, as I already mentioned, has not been able to achieve a single strategic goal. No major city was captured by the Russians. Depsite numerous attempts of shelling, bombing and ground offensives on the capital city of Kyiv, the enemy has not been able to take any control. Ukraine’s Defense Forces fought back all of the attacks on cities. Some heavy fighting took place in Kyiv in recent days, but in all cases the groups trying to invade the city were destroyed.
Now I want to draw your attention to Russia’s war crimes committed in the process of the invasion. On February 25th, Russian army shelled with imprecise GRAD missiles an orphanage in Vorzel, Kyiv region. 50 kids were inside at the moment of the attack. On the same day Russian artillery, an even heavier “URAGAN” hit a kindergarten in Okhtyrka, Sumy region. At least 5 people died and 15 were heavily injured, all civilians, including children. One more child succumbed to his wounds later in the hospital. In the morning on February 26th Russian invaders shot down an entire civilian family in Nova Kakhovka, Kherson region. 56 year-old Anna and Oleg Fedko, Iryna Fedko, and two grandchildren: 6 years old Anna and 18 months old Ivan are dead.
Multiple civilian objects were hit. Dozens of residential buildings in major cities. A multi-storage building in Kyiv was hit with a cruise missile. Oil refinery in the city of Vasylkiv was hit this night threatening an ecological catastrophe. These are only a few of hundreds of war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine in the course of its blatant military aggression. I assure Russian war criminals that we will bring all of them to responsibility in international courts. You will face justice for what you did. No matter how much time and effort it takes us, we will not rest until all of the criminals responsible for the deaths of our men, women and children killed during these war crimes are put behind bars.
Now to the international reaction. First of all I now want to thank from the bottom of my heart the hundreds of millions of people abroad, Ukrainian communities and foreigners, who demonstrated and continue to demonstrate their solidarity with Ukraine, demand their governments to act, donate money and provide other support to Ukraine’s Defense. We see you. We feel your support. Ukraine is not falling. We are bleeding, but we continue to successfully defend ourselves. So should you continue to do everything possible to help us win this fight. Those foreign individuals who have the will and ability to fight alongside Ukrainians against invaders are welcome to join the International Legion of the Territorial Defense of Ukraine. Please, address Ukrainian embassies in your countries for further details.
We have been working hard during these dark times to quickly consolidate a global anti-Putin coalition of states which support the free Ukraine and oppose Russian war criminals. At this moment this coalition includes 84 states and 13 international organizations.
Russia already faces massive isolation. I thank all countries which have already severed ties and cut any engagement with Russia on international and bilateral level. Putin has effectively closed the window to Europe opened 300 years ago by his predecessor Peter the First. This is a turning point in the history of Russia which will certainly plunge ordinary Russians into poverty and isolation, as well as may lead to the collapse of the Russian political system as such. Belarus will face similar consequences as an accomplice of the crime of aggression against Ukraine if it continues to provide its territory and, God forbid, its human resources to the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Governments around the world have already imposed massive costs on the Russian economy, elite and ordinary people. Sanctions hit Russia's biggest banks, its weapons industry, its largest energy company and everyone close to Putin. Coalition allies have also cut Russia off access to financial and economic tools, banning all operations, stopping the issuing of visas to Russians and many other actions. I also welcome the creation of a special group to research Russian assets abroad. The list of actions is too long to name all now.
However, and what I am going to say is extremely important, I want to warn every government that might think now that after imposing these sanctions they can rest. Sanctions and actions must be elevated, the pressure must be elevated until Russia and its accomplice Belarus stop killing Ukrainians and bombing our cities, out men, women and children. Until Russia entirely withdraws its forces from Ukraine and de-occupies our territories. This is the end goal of the global anti-Putin coalition. Unfortunately, there are no signs that Russia is ready to do it and stop the war. I call on you to hit Russia more. Hit Russia harder. Hit Russia now. It is a matter of hours and not days to make these important decisions and to make these steps. We, Ukrainians, do it on the frontline sacrificing our lives. And we have only one request to you: back us up.
I want to say a few separate words to those few European governments which are now trying to water down the sanctions packages, including the banning of Russia from SWIFT. And I will not be diplomatic. Some countries are trying to leave loopholes, exclude a number of banks, so that they can apply some measures with their left hands and continue to trade with Russia with their right hands. Stop doing this now. Stop trading with the blood of Ukrainian men, women and children. This is not a metaphor but a reality of what you are doing. History will judge you, and your names will forever remain in history books as names of traitors of humanity who failed to oppose the aggressor in Europe at a crucial time. There are examples of such names in the 20th century. I am confident, you don’t want to add your names after a comma. It is critically important that Russia is disconnected from SWIFT in the fullest extent possible, all possible banks. Don’t play political games and stop earning money soaked in our blood. Let’s stop Putin! Let’s stop the war! Let’s restore the world order and the European order, and only then will you be able to restore at least some of the business connections with Russia, not to mention the political ones.
The second most fundamental issue right now is global and severe sanctioning of the Central Bank of Russia. Once again. We demand and we need immediate steps to impose a full financial isolation of Russia from all civilized systems, applying to all Russian banks, including its Central Bank. Some actions were already taken and we are deeply grateful to our partners for them. But they are not enough. Peace needs more. It’s not us, Ukrainians, who need it. It’s the peace in Europe, it’s the world order that needs more actions.
We also demand to impose a full oil and gas embargo on Russia. These oil and gas now also contain Ukrainian blood. Anyone buying it has to be ashamed of doing so. I welcome the first decisive steps by a number of European countries in this regard and urge all anti-war coalition allies to proceed without delay with the strongest possible measures.
I would like to thank all partners who have already provided Ukraine with weapons to defend itself from Russian invaders. We will never forget your help at this dark moment. I urge all countries to provide Ukraine with more weapons, ammunition, supplies, equipment and fuel. We need weapons to fight, to defend our country. We specifically need anti-tank, anti-air, anti-missile weapons. We need more air-to-air and ground-to-air missiles to counter invaders. We need more drones, more vehicles, aircraft, artillery, guns, machine guns, ammunition - everything that can help us defend ourselves from Russia, from its armed aggression aimed at killing Ukrainians and destroying our country. It is obvious, I think everyone agrees after this week, that the goal of Russia is to destroy Ukraine as a state, is to destroy Ukrainians as a nation. But we will not fall. We will not stop or get tired. This is a true people's war. It’s not a war between one state and another. It is a war between President Putin and the people of Ukraine.
We are determined to fight back fiercely as long as it is needed to defend our land and our people. We are determined to defeat Russia the same way as we defeated the previous monster in Europe 80 years ago. And I am sure that we shall prevail.