Ukraine president says his country ‘has been left to fight alone’ as hundreds killed or injured

‘Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone,’ says embattled leader

Namita Singh
Friday 25 February 2022 10:30 GMT
Kiev streets look empty as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday said his country has been “left alone” to defend itself, as Moscow launched a full scale military offensive that left over 137 Ukrainians dead on the first day.

“They are killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets,” said the president. “It’s foul and will never be forgiven.”

Criticising western allies, the president said: “Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone. Who is ready to give Ukraine a guarantee of Nato membership? Everyone is afraid.”

In a video address, he said 137 “heroes,” including 10 military officers, had been killed and 316 people wounded. Among the dead include all border guards on the Zmiinyi Island in the Odessa region taken over by the Russians.

The president said he remained in the country along with his family, despite being identified by Russia as the top target.

“The fate of the country depends fully on our army, security forces, all of our defenders,” he said, adding that Russian forces had already entered Kiev.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has also said Kiev “could well be under siege.”

Mr Zelensky, who had earlier cut diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law, appealed to global leaders, saying that “if you don’t help us now, if you fail to offer a powerful assistance to Ukraine, tomorrow the war will knock on your door.”

Russian forces’ movements since the invasion began (Press Association Images)

Speaking later on Friday, he demanded tougher sanctions against Russia and called for allies to provide “effective counteraction” against Moscow’s advances after holding talks with British PM Boris Johnson.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson pledged further support “in the coming days” after the president updated him on the “terrible developments” in the Ukrainian capital.

After enduring land and sea-based missiles, Ukrainian officials confirmed losing control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Alyona Shevstosova, adviser to the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, wrote on Facebook that staff at the Chernobyl plant were “taken hostage” with the White House expressing outrage over the reports.

Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, however, confirmed there have been “no casualties or destruction at the industrial site” where a nuclear reactor at the plant had exploded in 1986, covering Europe with a radioactive cloud.

In unleashing the largest ground war in Europe since the Second World War, Russian president Vladimir Putin ignored global condemnation and sanctions, as he threatened intervening forces with “consequences”.

Ben Wallace says Russia failing to achieve 'any of its major objectives'

Joe Biden, meanwhile, announced new sanctions against Russia, while lambasting Mr Putin for choosing “this war” and exhibiting a “sinister” view of the world in which nations take what they want by force.

“It was always about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire by any means necessary — by bullying Russia’s neighbours through coercion and corruption, by changing borders by force, and, ultimately, by choosing a war without a cause,” Mr Biden said.

Condemnation has also came from South Korea and Australia, along with other European nations. Russia-friendly leaders, like Hungary’s Viktor Orban, have chosen to distance themselves from Mr Putin.

Mr Blinken, in an interview CBS News, said Moscow’s intent behind overthrowing the Ukrainian government was to “reconstitute the Soviet empire”.

Additional reporting by agencies

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